Satisfied employees
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Happy Employees in the Workplace

From a rather way out suggestion from a Swedish politician, to some rather more reserved suggestions – there are plenty of ways you can make your workplace a happier place!

HR professionals must have been left reeling in Sweden after a politician suggested that sex breaks in the workplace would be good for the physical and mental health of employees! The vote on his proposal is due in the spring, so we will look forward to seeing the results…

In the meantime, it is worth looking at how you can keep your employees happy in more conventional ways. After all, we all know how ensuring your workforce is content can result in better productivity for any company. It also encourages your people to stay with you, cutting back on time and resources spent on recruiting and training new staff.

Work/Life Balance

We are certainly not suggesting that you introduce conjugal breaks, but ensuring that your staff have a healthy work/life balance will help them maintain healthy relationships outside of work. And people who are in happy, healthy relationships tend to work better and be more focused, which can only be of benefit for your organisation. Considering policies that allow flexible working and discouraging a workplace culture of outside-hours working will also help.

When it comes to relationships at work, you need to consider whether you have some sort of Romance Policy in place, and what needs to happen should romances between colleagues flourish – according to reports around 15% of people meet partners at work, so it’s something that needs to be addressed by HR. I have written about this subject before.

Employee Benefits

A study in the Journal of Labor Economics in October 2015 found that happy employees generated about 12% more work than others, so it really is worth spending the time to ensure your staff are content, especially if you consider that research by employee benefits and perks company Perkbox found that 30% (that’s 6.5 million!) of UK workers are unhappy at work and would move jobs for better benefits.

A massive 69% said company perks and benefits were important to their overall satisfaction and more than a quarter pointed out that lack of reward and recognition for good work was their main grievance at work.

Recognition & Praise

Recognising and acknowledging good work and effort is not hard to do – encourage your managers to praise on a daily basis where it is due – and make sure that it is widely known that recognition can come in several forms, whether verbally, by email or for more major achievements using a more public vehicle such as company newsletter or intranet.

Holiday Entitlement

Finally, while it is still summer – though we think someone may have forgotten to tell the weather – do remember that it is vitally important to have a break. Managers should not only encourage their staff to take at least one long break, rather than lots of odd days, but should also plan in advance for cover and ensure there is a sufficient handover. This will help your staff to go away without fear of being contacted while they are on holiday – and also ensure that the remaining staff members don’t end up doing two jobs while their colleague is away. More advice on this here.

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.

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.

The 'Always-on' generation. Image courtesy of nenetus at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
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The Youth of Today – Are you Ready for Generation Z?

When it comes to managing HR, you need to understand your market, and while you may have got a handle on the Millennials – those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000 – do you know about what’s coming next?

Generation Z (sometimes called the Post-Millennials) are the first generation to have grown up in a truly digital world. They are often referred to as the ‘always-on’ generation. They won’t remember a world without smartphones, and find the idea of being unable to be connected to friends, family and indeed the rest of the world by phone and internet completely alien.

So, have you thought about how you might be planning to attract, recruit and retain this new influx of workers?

The UK also has a severe digital skills shortage, so these young people, with their in-built digital skills are going to be hugely valuable in the workplace. But you need to be aware that their attitudes and expectations around the working environment could be vastly different to the previous generation.

Report Findings

The findings of the Amaze Generation: digital me report which has studied 10 to 15-year-olds over the past five years, are intriguing. It revealed that these young people have developed processes and strategies to deal with the digital world around them, in every aspect of their life from relationships, self-esteem and careers to education, pastimes and shopping.

They are not, as you might have first thought, digital slaves obsessed with taking selfies, instead they are shaping and moulding the digital world around them. See the video here.  They are already digital strategists and content editors – though they may not realise it yet – they edit their own personae online and create their own personal brands. They want constant communication, but in a form of their own – they want intimate networks, not intrusion.

What this means to an organisation

As they come into the workplace, Generation Z will already be able to manage their own lives from a smartphone, and be capable of dealing with the latest technologies or new trends quickly. They will be surprised if their workplace cannot do the same.

They won’t be scared of new technologies and processes, they will be able to work around them, not be scared that a new development will take their job away.

You can expect them to challenge communication technologies and processes, as well as ways of remote working – and coming up with their own, probably improved methods of working.

And for HR…

As HR professionals, we will have to be aware that they are used to getting almost instant feedback and will want their working lives to offer positive experiences. They will be looking for the freedom and flexibility to be creative, and will expect to work in an atmosphere where they feel valued and where they can achieve their potential.

So how can you attract these Post-Milennials to your organisation? Well, make sure they know that they can have an input into the way the company works, and that their ideas will be appreciated. You need to ensure they feel like they will have a future with your organisation – managers should have genuine conversations with them, recognise their good work, and offer decent benefits and salaries.

If you commit to investing in these young employees, allow them the freedom to grow and thrive and they will reward you with their loyalty and their talent.

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 a message.

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.

Election 2017
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What HR Professionals Need to Know about the General Election

From political discussions in the office to what the election result could mean to you, here’s what you need to know…

One of the first issues when a general election is called is the matter of politics within the workplace.

Of course, you can’t ban any talk of politics or the general election – it will be uppermost in many people’s minds and on the news constantly. But you are entitled to stop political campaigning at work, which might cause disruption or upset to your staff or customers – and of course if they try to use work equipment for their campaigning, for instance, using the photocopier to produces masses of leaflets.

You are also entitled to stop any political symbols being worn at work. Do you have a dress code or a policy on political activities in the workplace? Use these to let your staff know about your expectations. And with Brexit being at the fore of all parties campaigning in the run-up to the election, any comments that could be construed as harassment, particularly towards other nationalities, is a strict no-go area. HR departments may need to be prepared for conflict on this matter.

So, onto the election and the policies that could affect those of us working in HR.

Conservative Plans

It is expected that Theresa May is planning to protect workers’ rights, as she is said to want to create a fairer, equal society and to aid social mobility. The Conservatives said they would ‘protect and enhance’ workers’ rights in the Brexit White Paper – which would include the three million EU nationals living in the UK, as well as UK citizens in the EU.

Most parties want to keep the employment rights we already enjoy under the EU, so hopefully most of these won’t be changed much, whoever wins the election.

Hopefully May will also stay firm to her promise to help to end the stigma of mental health in the workplace, and the Tories have already promised to back legislation on the gender pay gap – so let’s hope that won’t change either.

Labour Plans

If Labour come to power, Jeremy Corbyn has promised that they would raise the minimum wage for all to a minimum of £10 an hour by 2020. Good news for employees, although there may be some companies questioning if they could afford it. Labour also want to add another four bank holidays to the calendar – these could be especially significant for companies that work with counterparts overseas who don’t have the same days off.

At the moment, the Taylor Review is looking into modern employment practices, including the gig economy and zero hour contracts – so it is hoped that this does not get forgotten amongst all the political campaigning – and its findings overlooked. Read more on the review here.

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 a message.

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.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Employee Experience

How your staff engage at work is vital for productivity, as well as staff recruitment and retention.

Customer experience is now all-important for those in the retail, entertainment and hospitality arenas, especially as the landscape has changed, allowing customers to review their experiences – good or bad – almost instantly on social media.

The level of care that is given to these customers is something that HR professionals now need to focus on, as employees expect the same kind of consumer-style experience at work – and will be passing on the same kind of reviews when they leave.

When we watch Netflix, for example, it looks at our choices and offers up more films and TV programmes than it thinks we will like. HR needs to do the same thing in the workplace – offering a personalised experience, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.

Companies are using the Cloud, artificial intelligence and mobile computing to develop their businesses in every aspect – and that includes HR. HR departments in big players such as General Electric and IBM are making the whole employee experience human-centered – ironically by using the latest technology.

At General Electric, they now have a Head of Employee Experience, who looks at everything that can help staff be happier and therefore more productive – their environment, the tools they use and the technology they have access to.

And a study by The Future Workplace and Beyond.com – The Active Job Seeker Dilemma – showed that more investment was now going into training, improving work spaces and offering more rewards. Offering a better employee experience will help you to attract and retain the best talent in your industry.

The working environment

Most offices these days are open plan – interestingly, it has been mooted that these spaces are designed for extroverts, who need plenty of stimulation from colleagues, but for the introverts, who can be just as creative and talented, the space does not work so well.

A study by Steelcase across 17 countries found that staff who had control over where and how they worked, and who had the freedom to choose a work space to suit the job in hand – were 88% more engaged at work.

Take a look at how your work spaces work for various kinds of people – and different kinds of work. Apply your own feelings on where you like to work, where you like to go to get a job sorted, areas where you avoid working or meeting. Are there spaces for sitting quietly and concentrating, breakout areas for informal creative discussions and so on?

The employee experience should be as important as the customer experience. Your company probably considers every interaction that the potential customer will make with the organisation, from their first visit to the website, to their purchase, aftercare and beyond. This is how you need to look at the potential employee – consider their experience from that first recruitment ad to their first day at work, the last day, and everything in between and beyond – how you can support them, and guide them on their journey through your organisation.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

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.

 

Lovebirds in the Workplace

I could not let Valentine’s Day pass without a mention.

We spend so much time at work with our colleagues, often sharing the same interests, goals, aspirations, and let’s not forget the space we share at work. So, it is not unnatural to find ‘chemistry happening’ … and people falling in love with their work colleagues. When the heart rules, the head has no chance!

Many of us also know that anything to do with love is not all butterflies and roses. And there are definitely pitfalls when the love of your life is your work colleague, and when those feelings start to deepen or, alas, to fade.

Try not to play Cupid!

I believe that we, as HR professionals, have a part to play in Love in the Workplace. No, I don’t mean as Cupid … look what happened in the case of Craddock v Fontoura t/a Countyclean … The boss tried to bring two people together and the employment tribunal found that his attempts to “play Cupid” with his staff constituted sexual harassment, despite his apparently benign motive – see No. 10 in the Personnel Today article mentioned below.

This article in Personnel Today highlights 10 potential problems with workplace romances. The issues are all too true and should be considered by every organisation, no matter its size.

The article mentions that many large corporates have in place policies to govern … L-O-V-E. I’m pleased to say that I have had direct experience in Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s) where it is even more important to have some guidelines about this sensitive matter.

To have or not to have a Romance Policy

Many years ago, the management in a company I worked with were very aware of the impact that workplace romances could have and we had a debate about whether to have a romance policy, or not to have a policy.

Whether a policy, or guidelines are decided, the main thing, as with everything to do when working with people, is communication. Early communication by a manager with the romantics concerned – usually separately – is a big YES. It is important to ask if there is anything in it, if it looks like rumours abound or if you can see or feel that there may be ‘something going on’. If it is confirmed, then the ‘talk’ would be about ensuring that their love-life does not interfere with work. To discuss the importance of maintaining a professional presence and ensuring that if there are problems between each other that it is sorted away from the workplace. It is also a good idea to tell the two concerned that if their relationship starts to sour and they find it is difficult to work together, they should let someone know – hopefully their manager. If the organisation’s guidelines or policies are open and freely communicated, your people will offer the information when they believe the time is ripe.

Managers have a very important role to play at work and need the skills to deal with sensitive matters such as this. I know that there is never a simple answer to most workplace issues and sorting things out often takes longer than you would expect. I take my hat off to the good managers who are around and are not afraid to deal with sticky workplace problems.

Often small business owners and managers do not have the time or prefer to keep out of dealing with sensitive issues and we, as HR professionals, work alongside them especially to take the hassle out of HR.

Chemistry at Work

I’m very pleased to say that I have seen Love blossom in the workplace. I have watched Love journey on to become a loving and caring relationship. I have witnessed Love ring out the wedding bells and I have beamed as Love produced tiny babies … all from the Chemistry at Work.

In the instances of which I am aware, those lovebird’s did not make their colleagues feel uncomfortable at all. Congratulations!

When things are not going right, of course, it always causes a problem. The Personnel Today article mentions that when this happens, very often the couple sort things out themselves, even if it means one or both of them decide to move on. It’s always a tough time for all – who are you aligned with? Do you invite one out, or the other? Someone gets hurt. Someone draws the short straw.

For managers, this will be a very sensitive time because it may well affect productivity as well as the morale in the workplace. How do you step in? Do you take any action? Again, sensitive and open communication is needed. Managers are not counsellors, unless they have been trained, and they should not assume this role.

I say that when love is in the air at work, it is another instance where managers should not bury their heads in the sand but share the happiness and ensure that the couple know what the Romance Policy at Work is about.

Having said that I wish all at work a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

May you find your ‘lobster’* in your happy workplace if you haven’t done so already.

*Thanks to Phoebe from Friends!

 

14 February 2017


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

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

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.