Cybercrime Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Fighting Cybercrime

The threat of cybercrime to British businesses is very real – and increasing all the time. This is one subject you shouldn’t ignore…

British businesses lost almost £30 billion due to cybercrime in 2016*. And nearly half fell victim to some kind of cybercrime, whether that was phishing, hacking, denial of service attacks or viruses.

If you are unaware of the damage cybercrime can do – just think back to May, when the NHS was subject to a ransomware attack, which brought down systems around the country, resulting in chaos and cancelled operations.

Is your data safe from hackers?

As hackers increasingly exploit human vulnerability, what can HR do to fight back? Protecting against cyber assaults is a more complex issue than just throwing money into better software and training your IT department. Read People Management’s new report [CIPD: Cybersecurity is too important to be left to the IT department 27/06/2017] to find out about the vital role HR has to play in educating employees and addressing organisational vulnerabilities.

People Management’s report reveals that 46% of UK employees spent half an hour or less on cyber security training in 2016, with 27% having done none at all. A new attitude towards training is clearly needed and Peter Cheese, CIPD Chief Executive, believes the trick to delivering effective cyber security training is to show how cybercrime could affect staff in their personal lives.

Take this free e-learning module [CIPD: Cyber Security for HR Professionals] on cyber security for HR professionals, to learn how to protect yourself and your organisation.

Speaking recently at an event with the Financial Times, Peter Cheese said that lifelong learning will be vital to future sustainability in a world where ‘data is the new electricity’.

So, it’s vital that companies are protected – and it is not just down to the IT department, HR has a role to play too.

HR’s role in cybercrime

The HR role is to educate employees, after all that is your strength. IT staff may know all the ins and out of cybersecurity, but it is the HR staff who have the skills to pass that knowledge on to the staff. And at present, according to Government research, only 17% of businesses are training their staff to be aware of cyber security.

It is obvious that that figure needs to change – and fast. This has to be a culture change within the organisation: you need to make sure employees buy in to the very real threat that cybercrime can pose to the company. They need to be aware, for instance, that you can’t just use random USB sticks in company computers without knowing what’s on them and where they come from.

And it’s not just in-house staff that need to be part of the culture change – freelancers and contractors need to be brought on board and made aware of the risks and the protocol to follow within your organisation.

When it comes to your training methods, if you can make it fun and engaging, you’ll be halfway to winning the battle. For consultancy firm PwC, the answer was to introduce a digital game called Game of Threats, which mimics a cyber-attack on an organisation.

And at the end of the day, companies also need people who are experts in the matter. HR has a role to play in ensuring that IT staff or consultants with specialist knowledge in this area are brought on board and are up to speed with the varying threats from cybercrime, as well as having the tools to tackle it.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send an email to: cecily.lalloo@embracehr.co.uk.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

*Data from a report by Beaming [Beaming Ltd: Cyber security breaches cost British Businesses almost £30 billion in 2016 01/03/2017]

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Appraisals and why Once a Year is Not Enough

January is a good time to look at things anew – and this month we take a look at sorting out the appraisal process, or you may refer to it as a review process.

Speak to many people – employees and managers – about the annual appraisal and you’ll be met with sighs, muttering and often downright mutiny.

Many people consider the whole appraisal process as a waste of valuable work time, an interruption of their working day, and a pointless box-ticking activity.

Yet the theory behind the appraisal process is a good one – it allows both parties to discuss performance, look at ways to improve productivity, employee engagement and company morale, and can encourage employee engagement – if it is done in the right way.

However, many of the big companies are now scrapping the annual review and turning instead to real-time feedback. Accenture, one of the biggest companies in the world, did just that in 2016 – a massive task considering the 394,000 people involved – as did accounting giant Deloittes.

These organisations have come to the conclusion that the money, time and effort involved did not achieve what it should – that is, better productivity from employees and in turn improved profits for the company.

Instead, these organisations have opted for a ‘little and often’ system, where ongoing feedback is provided after assignments. Small businesses can learn from this, as the big businesses have already done the research!

Is this something you could implement?

It is becoming apparent that having a meeting once a year is not the way. This allows far too much time for anger or resentment to simmer before the employee or manager has a chance to address an issue – be it performance or conduct.

If there are problems with performance, they should be raised when an issue comes to light, not further down the line. There should be ample opportunity for comments about staff’s performance, strengths and weaknesses and discussion of progress throughout the year.

Weekly check-ins are used by many firms now – this could be as simple as a five-minute chat in the corridor after a presentation. It is so important to make dedicated time to speak to your staff. Everyone is busy and oft times staff do not want to ‘worry’ a busy manager and hence ‘molehills become mountains’.

Any sort of appraisal should allow for the staff member to discuss their own ambitions, what training they need, how they feel about their job and if they have any concerns.

If you still plan to use appraisal forms, when they make their way back to HR they should be used as a tool – not filed away to tick a box! It can be used to get a feel for employee morale, the sort of training and changes staff would benefit from, and to identify ways to help employees progress within the company.

Technology and social media have even been introduced by some firms to assist in their feedback system. PwC for example, uses a mobile app called Snapshot. This allows its employees to ask managers or peers to assess them in five areas: business acumen, global acumen, technical capability, leadership skills and relationships. They will be told if they are meeting, exceeding or falling short of expectations.

In our always-on society, where changes take place frequently, information is available at the touch of a button, and where we are used to getting what we need in seconds, it makes sense that appraisals should also happen frequently, with regular updates.

If you would like to discuss how you can update your appraisal system, or have a chat about your general HR requirements, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send an email to: cecily.lalloo@embracehr.co.uk.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Neuroscience in HR

People tend to get worried when terms such as neuroscience are bandied about. But don’t be alarmed – nobody is expecting HR professionals to start reading up on brain surgery. However, knowing how our brains work can be a valuable tool in your arsenal.

Neuroscience refers to the impact the brain has on behavior and cognitive functions and how it reacts in certain situations – for instance ‘fight or flight’. It can apply to how the brain develops, memory and learning, sleep, stress and the senses.

Understanding what can help the brain can be invaluable

Understanding what can help the brain, and what can hinder it, can be invaluable when you are trying to work with staff to improve their skills and productivity.

For instance, when you send someone on a training course, they don’t necessarily retain a large percentage of the knowledge that is imparted. But if that course is delivered with consideration about how the brain actually learns and retains information, you get much better results. In fact, some companies are introducing exercise into their training courses, as aerobic exercise (along with decent sleep) can contribute to a better learning environment.

Being able to work with the brain has to be advantageous

And being able to work with the brain and its functions, rather than fighting against it, has to be more advantageous for everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.

HR professionals can also practice what they preach. By understanding how the brain works and reacts, they can help their people when they are under stress or in difficult circumstances. Communicating with them in the right way can have a huge impact – and help them improve performance and productivity, as the brain cannot function properly if it is under too much stress.

And by helping the people within the organisation to recognise how the brain works, they can also help themselves. For instance, by understanding their personality and why it makes them behave the way they do; recognising the way other people’s minds work can help them to function together as a team; and of course recognising how they learn best and so choosing the right kind of courses or other ways of learning new skills.

Utilisation of this science can help

Neuroscience is not all new – and indeed you may be using some of these techniques without even thinking about it. But the utilisation of this science can help in so many ways:

  • Performance: Managers can be helped to work on giving ‘brain-friendly’ feedback, which will leave their staff open to their comments, rather than shutting down.
  • Learning: Your average workshop produces knowledge retention of around 10 per cent. If you can deliver it using ‘brain-friendly’ techniques, you can substantially increase that figure.
  • Productivity: Some tasks are by their very nature, mindless and repetitive. But productivity can be improved if the workers are aware that what they are working on will be of benefit to someone else.
  • Coping with change: neuroscience can be used to help to improve employees’ resilience and thus support them when they have to adapt to change.
  • Engagement: Improve employee engagement by focusing on people’s strengths

If you would like to discuss training, change management or your HR requirements, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

Holidays are vital for a healthy workplace

A healthy workplace is vital, and HR has a major role to play in creating the best conditions for staff.

Staff ill health can cost the UK around £14 billion a year according to the CBI’s 2013 Sickness Absence survey, and the CIPD 2015 Absence Management survey reckoned the average annual median cost of absence per employee was £554.

And these figures may not take into account indirect costs, such as a drop in employee morale, loss of productivity and reduced customer service; things that can have a very real effect on any business.

Ensuring that your people take all the holiday they are entitled to is just one way in which to ensure employees keep healthy and happy.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, workers (including part-timers and most agency staff) have the right to 5.6 weeks’ paid leave each year.

However, according to research commissioned by Elance-Odesk, an online marketplace which connects businesses and freelancers, British workers are subject to an extra 6.5 extra working hours each week because companies don’t prepare properly for the holiday season.

So how can you prepare for holidays?

By this time of year, you should have a reasonable picture of when staff will be taking their long summer vacations, and have checked for any potential clashes.

If you don’t, do make sure that everyone is aware of the holiday request procedures and how much leave they have remaining.

  • Once you have holidays in place, ensure that your teams are aware of what recurring tasks need to be carried out over the period when you have people away, and manage how those tasks will be redistributed and what deadlines are looming.
  • Find out whether extra cover will be needed to ensure your operation continues to run smoothly, and allow time for training temporary staff if necessary.

Depending on the size and nature of your organisation, it may not be able to cope if too many people are away at the same time. If this is the case, the individuals must be informed as early as possible about the situation and how it will be handled.

Likewise, if you need people working over bank holidays, plenty of notice is needed. You could offer incentives such as reduced office hours and time off in lieu.

Before they go on holiday, make sure that your people set up appropriate out-of-office messages for email and phones, and provide a detailed handover document if required.

Encourage staff to take holidays

However challenging it may be to sort out holidays, especially in smaller teams, it is imperative for the morale and wellbeing of your employees.

Not all holidays need to be long ones, though. Encourage staff to take short breaks, which will allow them to return to work relaxed and invigorated, in between any longer vacations they may take.

If staff aren’t taking their holidays, look at the reasons why, and what you can do to help. Is their workload too heavy, are there too many project deadlines, are you short-staffed or do some Managers make it difficult for staff to take their holidays?

Automated holiday management systems

If you have various staff working shifts or part-time hours it can be a challenge to keep track of what time off they accrue.

You could consider a cloud-based personnel software system, such as Staff Squared, which can manage all your employee data and files, and let your staff request holidays using an intuitive calendar. Find out more at Staff2.

For help with your human resources requirements, issues and activities, please contact us for a no obligation discussion. Embrace HR Limited, based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, helps SMEs who do not have their own HR departments, or those who need HR support from time to time.  Email us or phone Cecily on 07767 308 717.