Petrol and Convenience is an industry defined by unique situations and requirements.  P&C brings together all of the usual retail pressures and opportunities, on a threshold mass hazard facility that is open to the public.  This combination, to put it bluntly, complicates things…everything…and finding and onboarding staff is no different.

As the usual staff pressures hit fever pitch in October 2021 every conversation I had with members included an almost desperate plea for help finding staff.  While the mass staff shortages have eased from the heights of last year, the pleas remain.  My answer remains the same now as it did then.  Advertise, train and supervise…and be ready to kiss a lot of frogs before you find any princes/princesses.

The reality is that a clear and effective sourcing, selection and onboarding process that allows the business to efficiently “try” new staff out, and quickly identify those that are unwilling or unable to function in the unique environment that is petrol and convenience at the standard needed, is a requirement for weathering the tight labour market we are experiencing.

So what does a good New Staff process look like in P&C?  In this deep dive HR Highlight series we will explore the elements of the New Staff process, what good looks like, and where to go for help.  This month we will explore appropriate position descriptions, selection criteria, job ads, application, interview, reference checking and work trials.  Next month we will investigate the employment offer paperwork, training and review elements that are sometimes known as the onboarding elements.

Overview

The considered and appropriate selection and training of staff is key to the stability and success of the business.  Being able to source appropriate staff and assist them to achieving competency in their role requires planning, documentation and the involvement of all management.

The key elements to ensuring that the correct staff are selected, onborded and managed to achieve business goals are;

  • Clear and well understood Position Descriptions, which inform recruitment (Job Ads, Application), selection (Work Trial, Interview), training and performance management activities are essential.
  • Detailed Learning and Development Plans and activities that are customised to the actual requirements of the role
  • Documents and processes that clearly communicate the businesses expectations, including Business Policies and Standard Operating Procedures and Task Instructions.

These elements, when combined with a considered selection and training system will allow for the quick and effective communication to all staff not only what is expected of them, but also how to achieve and exceed expectations within the business.

Appropriate staff selection and training also has a compliance element.  Following considered systems and processes ensures that employee rights are communicated and respected and that the business can demonstrate compliance in the area of employment law, work health and safety training requirements as well as tobacco and environmental requirements.

What is Recruitment and Selection?

Recruitment is attracting the right candidates with the right skills to fill job vacancies.  In other words it is attracting candidates who meet the established selection criteria.

The process for Recruitment and Selection includes;

  1. Setting Selection Criteria
  2. Advertising Job Vacancies
  3. Screening Applicants
  4. Interviewing Applicants
  5. Reference Checking Applicants,
  6. Work Trials, and
  7. Offering the Job

This month we will explore steps 1-6.  Next month we will explore the Offer (and all the paperwork that goes with that) and the important training and supervision steps that follow the offer.

Setting Selection Criteria

Selection Criteria is the list of minimum requirements the business sets for any candidates to meet to be considered for the job and are based on the position description.

Selection is choosing the right candidates, who meet the selection criteria and who will fit in with the culture and approach of the business.

Setting Selection Criteria should arise from the Position Description and should include;

  • Physical requirements of the job, such as standing for the majority of the day,
  • Technology requirements of the job, such as using cash registers and computer systems
  • Personal and character requirements of the job, such as trustworthy and attention to detail particularly when handling cash

as well as practical items like

  • Days and Hours of work,
  • General conditions, and any
  • Experience or Special Skills required.

ACAPMA Members can access the industry standard Position Descriptions and Selection Criteria for Console Operators, Roadhouse Attendants and Site Managers by emailing employment@acapma.com.au

Advertising Job Vacancies

Once the Selection Criteria is set it is time to advertise the job vacancy.  Any job ad should provide brief, accurate and relevant details to potential employees so that they can understand what the role is and if it is something that they could do, would be interested in and would be able to commit to.

It is important in any ad that no information that may be misleading is included.

Every job ad should include;

  • Business details and the work location
  • Details of the job and selection criteria
  • Pay details – either a pay rate or notation that pay will be as per the Award
  • Application instructions, including a closing date and any forms, processes or pre interview training that is required

It is also helpful to note that only candidates who are successful in securing an interview will be contacted

Once the Job Ad is prepared there are several options for actually making the ad public and attracting applicants.

Advertising options include;

  • Shop Window – an ad placed in the window of the site is likely to reach local customers and thus local jobseekers.  This is a no cost option, just be sure to communicate to the staff at the site what they should do if a customer wants more information on the role
  • Community Networks – such as local message boards, sports clubs, local schools and universities as well as the Social Media options of Facebook Marketplace, LinkedIn etc, allow you to get your job vacancy to local job seekers.  Most of these places will place job vacancy information at no charge.  Local papers are also an excellent option with many placing job vacancies for no charge or only a small placement fee
  • Recruitment websites – some recruitment websites will place ads at no cost, but most come with a cost.  If you are having difficulty finding staff this may be a worthwhile expense, however it is important to note that ads placed on recruitment websites often result in many applications from across the country which may increase the time it takes to screen applicants
  • Recruitment Agencies – are businesses that locate and screen applicants and then place them in a business for a fee.  The fees that recruitment agencies charge differ, however most will charge a percentage of the annual salary being offered to the staff member they place.  The business, not the staff member pays this fee.

ACAPMA Members can access the industry standard Job Ads for Console Operators, Roadhouse Attendants and Site Managers by emailing employment@acapma.com.au

 Screening Applicants

Screening is a process of quickly reviewing applications to eliminate persons who would not be suitable and to make a list of persons who are suitable and would be worthwhile interviewing.

It is helpful to have all applicants complete the same application form as it makes screening easier, because it allows comparison of all applicants to the selection criteria.

An application form should include

  • Applicant details – name, date of birth, address
  • Working eligibility details – able to work in Australia? On a restricted work visa?  There are penalties for employing people who are ineligible to work in Australia, if in doubt you should consider asking for proof of capacity to work
  • Roster availability details – when the applicant is available to work
  • Work history – including contact details for reference checks
  • Education history – including what school attended and level of education achieved

To screen application that have been received look at each application separately.  It helps to make four piles;

  • The No pile of rejected applications
  • The Probably Not pile of applications that have something missing or not quite right
  • The Look Again pile of applications that are ok so far
  • The Yes pile of applications that are suitable for interview

Start by looking at the simple things.

  • Is the application complete? If it is not then the applicant is unlikely to have good attention to detail and should go on the Probably Not pile.  If it is complete then put it on the Look Again pile
  • Is the applicant eligible to work based on age and visa?  If not then they should go on the No pile.  If they are then put it on the Look Again pile

Once you have looked at the simple things then look deeper at the applications.  If the application show that they meet your criteria and are available to work at the times you need then move them to the Yes pile.  If some of the criteria or availability is met but not all move them to the Look Again pile.

Once you have gone through all of the applications if you have some in the Yes pile then you have your interview list.  If there are no applications in the Yes pile then review the applications in the Look Again and assess if any are close enough to be worth interviewing.

Contact the candidates on the interview list to arrange an interview time

ACAPMA Members can access the industry standard Application Form for Console Operators, Roadhouse Attendants and Site Managers by emailing employment@acapma.com.au

Interviewing Applicants

Interviews are conducted to get information about the applicant that can be used to predict how they will perform in the job as well as provide applicants with information about the job.

To get the most out of the interview process you should be prepared and consistent.

Prepare for the interview

  • A quiet place free from distractions
  • Enough time to explore prepared questions and get to know the applicant
  • Have a list of questions that are based on your selection criteria
  • Leave some time to answer candidate questions

It is important to note that when interviewing a candidate or making any decisions about who gets the role there are some things that are unlawful to include in discussions or decision making such as; age, sex, marital status, parental status, sexual preference and other areas of potential discrimination.

It is ok to ask a candidate about their general health only if it relates to the physical requirements of the role as outlined in your selection criteria

When actually doing the interview it is often helpful to work to a “script”.  Any script should include the key elements of;

  • Welcome the applicant and thank them for coming,
    • Hi thanks for coming…
  • Outline that you invited them for an interview because their application appeared to meet all of the criteria but that the interview is an opportunity for you to learn more about them and for them to learn more about the job so they should ask you any questions they have as you go through
    • …so I ca n learn about you and you can learn about the job…
  • Explain that perhaps the first place to start is for you to explain a little about the role, then to discuss the applicants availability and work history and then for you to answer any questions that the applicant has about the business or the role
    • …talk about the job…about your availability…about your work history…and answer any of your questions
  • Outline the role
    • …so you would be a console operator, that means…
  • Confirm the availability and work history details from the applicant and ask any detail or clarifying questions required
    • …so you have listed available hours as…
  • Invite the applicant to ask you any questions that they may have on the business or the role
    • …so do you have any questions?
  • Thank the applicant for coming and let them know you will contact them soon
    • …thanks for coming, we will be in touch…

After the interview you should take a few moments to record your thoughts about the candidate in terms of the selection criteria, the candidates work experience and skill levels and the candidates likely fit within the business – such as presentation, communication skills, language, commitment to customer service, attention to detail etc.  This information will help you determine who to award the job to after you have done all of your interviews and will provide notes on how the decision was reached if there is a dispute that arises from the interview process.

ACAPMA Members can access the industry standard Interview Script for Console Operators, Roadhouse Attendants and Site Managers by emailing employment@acapma.com.au

Reference Checking Applicants

If after you have conducted the interviews you have identified one or two candidates that you believe will be a good fit for the business and the job then you should move to the reference checking stage.

Before you decide which applicant will get the job you should take some time to contact the employment and character reference that the applicants have provided.

A reference check is an opportunity to confirm that the information that the candidate has given you is accurate.

You should contact the person that the candidate listed as a reference on their application form.  If there is no contact person listed for the candidates current job then a reference check on that role would be considered inappropriate, as the current employer may not know that the candidate is looking for other work.

When conducting the reference check it is important to communicate who you are and why you are calling, then verify the facts  – such as dates worked with the business, role, actual tasks etcetra.

Once the facts are verified you can then ask questions of the Referee on how the applicant behaved at work.  To get the most out of these questions they should be open ended such as;

  • So can you tell me about what kind of employee they were?
  • How would you describe their approach to customers?
  • Would you consider them to be detail focused?
  • Would you hire them again?

Just like with the interview process you should attempt to keep reference checking and the questions asked consistent, and to note the responses.

It is best to do at least two Reference Checks per applicant if possible so that any patterns can be identified and remember that most people do not want to give another person a bad review, so it may be required to read between the lines.

ACAPMA Members can access the industry standard Reference Check Checklist for Console Operators, Roadhouse Attendants and Site Managers by emailing employment@acapma.com.au

Work Trial

A Work Trial is what it says on the tin, it is a situation where the Candidate is placed into the Work environment to Trial the work, allowing the Candidate to see if the work is for them, and allowing the business to assess the skills and competencies of the Candidate to see if they match with the approach of the business and the requirements of the role.

A Work Trial can be paid or unpaid, however it must meet a few important criteria;

  • The Work Trial cannot be longer than it reasonably takes to establish the skills of the Candidate – for fuel retail positions including Console Operator, Roadhouse Attendant and Site Manager 3-4 hours would be considered appropriate for a Work Trial
  • The Candidate must be told explicitly about the Work Trial, its duration and whether it will be paid or unpaid – ideally this should be in writing
  • The Candidate must be supervised at all times while doing the Work Trial – it is a safety and business risk to have a Candidate do a Work Trial alone or to be alone during a Work Trial

If the Work Trial goes well the selection process would reflect that, however if it becomes clear that the Candidate is simply not a good fit for the business or the role during the Work Trial it is appropriate to let them know that their Application has been unsuccessful.

ACAPMA Members can access the industry standard Work Trial Notice and Assessment Checklist for Console Operators, Roadhouse Attendants and Site Managers by emailing employment@acapma.com.au

Next time…the offer, the paperwork, training and probation…

Here to Help

This article is general in nature and covers things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. It is provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation.  ACAPMA Employment Professionals are available to assist ACAPMA members via employment@acapma.com.au. ACAPMA membership is affordable at only $810inc GST per year for a single site and valuable with sites gaining HR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts.  Visit: https://acapma.com.au/membership/   to learn more or to apply for ACAPMA membership.

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM & IR)
ACAPMA

First published in Convenience World May 2022

 

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