Forgotten your New Year's resolutions? Given up the gym and reset your alarm?

Never fear, you can create positive change for your business this year, by prioritising your number one asset: your staff.

Get set for employment law changes this year, including an increase in adults' minimum wage to $16.50 per hour from 1 April, and 22 weeks' paid parental leave from 1 July.

Further changes are expected to improve workers' rights and strengthen unions, following the recent announcement of a Bill proposed to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000.

While waiting for these changes to take effect, businesses can improve performance and procedure in the following three ways:

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1. Don't just hire people you like

Why do Kiwis get jobs through who we know, rather than what we know? Why do so many businesses fall back on the 90 day trial period?

The answer is that many Kiwi businesses are getting recruitment wrong. Kiwi businesses often care more about how much we like the candidate than their suitability for the job.

Interviews are a breeding ground for unconscious bias, where candidates are chosen based on our own personal likes and dislikes.

This year, reduce the risk of unconscious bias by opting for a diverse interview panel.

Make sure your interviewers have different genders and backgrounds.

Write a list of questions relevant to the knowledge, skills and attributes required of the position, rather than your preferred hobbies.

Ask all candidates the same questions, and avoid helping your favourite candidates with the answers!

Select staff by using work sample testing to check whether a candidate's standard of work meets your expectations.

Work sample testing is one of the most valid measures of a candidate's future success.

2. Give clear feedback on performance

Tempted to tell poor performers that their frequent mistakes are "sweet as", while complaining to everyone except them?

If so, you're not alone. Kiwi culture teaches us to avoid all confrontation, until we've had a "guts full", and send our poor performers "down the road".

This year, give your staff honest feedback in a timely way. Don't wait for performance reviews or over-rely on the 90 day trial period.

Meet staff regularly, such as weekly or fortnightly, and give feedback to remote workers via technology such as Skype or videoconferencing.

Positive feedback is important for motivating and rewarding staff. Praising staff individually or in team meetings encourages achievement and initiative.

Constructive feedback should be clear and specific. Rather than say, "Your work is untidy", specify which parts of their work are untidy.

Identify areas for improvement with guidance on how to get it right. Provide adequate training, mentoring and coaching.

If the employee fails to improve, you can follow a formal performance management process.

3. Update policies and procedures

Do your workplace policies read like they were written exclusively for lawyers?

If so, it's time for an update. Policies should be written in clear and plain English for a reading age of 8 and an increasingly diverse workforce.

This year, update your policies to reflect employment law changes before they take effect. Parental leave policies should be updated before the changes come in on 1 July 2018.

All policies should be updated at least yearly to make sure they are consistent with workplace practice.

It's timely to check that you have all essential policies and procedures, including a Code of Conduct, disciplinary procedures, and health and safety policies.

Develop a handbook to protect your property and staff, with policies on employee wellbeing, flexible working, and social media.

Always consult with staff before implementing or updating policies.

- For free tips on employment law and upcoming live webinars, contact Julia Shallcrass at KiwiBoss: Julia@kiwiboss.co.nz or https://www.cchlearning.co.nz/partners/kiwiboss-limited/