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A blog providing trustworthy Human Resources advice to business owners, managers and employees plus the occasional LOL true story from the workplace.
Three ways to rocket your team’s performance in 2019
So when you take a look back at how your business performed in 2018, are you satisfied with what was achieved? A little reflection is always useful, but now’s the time to start thinking about the future. You no doubt have big plans for the next 12 months. You’ve got targets to meet and goals to smash, and if you want to ensure that your plans become a reality, then you’re going to have to give some serious consideration to how you’ll make sure that you get the most out of your staff.
Sometimes though, this can be much easier said than done. Every business owner knows that improving performance could be key to overall growth, but you’ll need some solid strategies to make this happen. You’ll be pleased to hear then that we can help. Let’s take a look at three ways to rocket your team’s performance for the year ahead.
Provide challenges that are stretching but achievable
No one ever achieved great things by just coasting along without a challenge. Your staff should be stretched, but there’s a fine balance to strike. Give them too much to handle and you’re not going to get the desired outcome. It might be time to assess your staff’s performance objectives, and consider whether they’re really fit for purpose.
Your line managers will play a big part in making this a success. They’ll know their team members best. So you need to make sure that they’re capable of helping them to set goals, and just as importantly, ensuring that they believe that they can achieve them.
Outline the value of the work outside the context of the business
If you’ve done any reading or research into best practice when it comes to managing a team, then you’ll know that it makes sense to encourage everyone to realize how their work helps the business to grow and meet its objectives. In other words, your staff should understand how what they’re doing fits into the bigger picture. You can take things a step further than this however. Are your staff aware of how their work makes a worthwhile contribution, profits and growth aside? Most businesses have some kind of social impact, and this can often be a great motivator for staff. Does your organization make a positive contribution to the community? Are you changing the lives of your customers and clients?
Recognize achievements as part of day-to-day business
Most of us can take huge amounts of personal satisfaction away from simply knowing that we’ve done a good job. Often, this alone can encourage us to strive to be even better. But let’s be completely honest here. Most of us also enjoy being suitably rewarded for our efforts. It’s easy to think that this is all about financial incentives, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It’s about rewards that are proportionate to the achievement. It’s about applying the same principles across the board. It’s about considering your reward processes as a whole, rather than just worrying about budget restraints. And ultimately, it’s about getting to the stage where ‘end-of-year performance reviews’ aren’t a one-off activity, but part of an ongoing dialogue.
Performance is important, and this is your chance to make sure that you’ve laid the right foundations for the year ahead. Are you ready, or are you lagging behind?
If you’re concerned about how employee performance could be damaging your business, or you just want to make sure that you’re firing on all cylinders, then we can help. Get in touch today.
Secrets To Overcoming The January Productivity Slump
Over the festive period, spirits are often high in the workplace. Everyone’s working towards shared goals, pulling together to make big things happen, and looking forward to the opportunity to take a little time out with friends and loved ones.
By the time that the New Year comes, the general mood and feel has often shifted slightly. With nothing but dark days and credit card bills to look forward to, productivity in the workplace can come to a grinding halt.
Thank your staff for their hard work
It’s likely that your staff will have worked longer shifts over the Christmas period. They’ll have dealt with stressful situations and difficult discussions, and it’s understandable if they’re feeling a bit burnt out. Some might even be asking themselves what the point in all of it even was.
Saying thank you is so simple and it’s something that you should be doing regularly, but it’s all too easy to overlook the basics in favor of developing complex strategies. Make sure your staff know that their contribution did not go unnoticed.
Get everyone together to set new goals
January can be a time when everyone settles back into their usual routines. The pressure might be lifted slightly, and while this can be a positive thing, it can also sometimes encourage complacency. Instead of letting this happen, make sure that you have a plan of action to guide you through the first quarter.
Call a team meeting, invite feedback and opinions, and ensure that everyone is fully up to speed and engaged with your new priorities. This will act as a timely reminder that it’s time to get back to business!
Lead by example and get your head in the game for the New Year
You might be the boss, but that that doesn’t mean that you’re immune to the January blues! You should ensure that you celebrate your successes and take time to reflect on your achievements over the past twelve months. It’s also important that you look at ways in which you can improve your skills and start the New Year with a bang.
Ask your staff to give you an open and honest assessment of how you’ve performed as a leader, and what you can do to support them better in the future. The best business owners are always considering how they can step up and lead by example.
Do you need some help with crafting your growth plans for the year to come? We can make sure that you get the year off to a flying start. Give us a call today to arrange an initial no-obligation consultation.
Is Your Customer Service Slipping?
If your customer service isn’t up to par, your profits are seriously going to suffer. Most leaders would probably be quick to say that it isn’t a problem in their operations, but can you honestly say that you couldn’t make some improvements? Working on upping your game in this area is the type of activity that could have a quick and tangible impact on your bottom line. So it’s worth taking some time to pinpoint potential issues and get a handle on them.
Not sure where to start? We’re here to help. Let’s look at the issues that could be at play in your business and how to fix them.
Make sure your staff knows what good service looks like
First of all, ask yourself whether your staff even know what’s expected from them. In your mind, you no doubt have a clear vision of how you want your workforce to handle queries and sales. But have you communicated this to the right people and have you created accountability? It’s vital that your teams fully understand what outstanding service looks like and when they’re hitting the mark. You might be amazed by how easily problems can be avoided when you take the time to share your expectations.
Have you invested in training
Training isn’t about talking your staff through some PowerPoint slides or sharing some broad theory about how things should be done. It’s about giving your team the practical skills they need to deliver results. If it’s been a while since you offered customer service training to your workers, then you could have identified your main problem.
Make sure your staff cares about your overall aims and objectives
Let’s take a step back for a second. Perhaps you feel confident that your staff understand what good service looks like and you know that you’ve offered quality training, So, if problems still exist, then you need to consider the possibility that you have some deeper cultural issues that need to be addressed. Having your staff on-board with what you’re trying to achieve in the broader sense is essential if you want to continue to grow.
When you know that changes need to be made, the road ahead can seem daunting. You don’t have to do it on your own though. It makes sense to work with a professional with a proven track record. After all, don’t you want results as quickly as possible?
So when it comes to fixing the problems that are holding back your workforce, get in touch with us about how we might be able to work together. You’ll walk away from your consultation with a clear idea about what you need to do next
All The Answers You Need To Your Christmas HR Questions
While most people begin to look forward to a little rest and recuperation over the Christmas period, it’s around this time that managers and business owners start to think about the nitty gritty, practical issues that they’ll have to contend with to keep their workforce engaged, motivated, and problem-free. It’s likely that you’ve got some questions about how you should handle things. You’re in luck, because we’ve got the answers! Read on to get the lowdown on what you really need to know. We’ve cut away all the jargon and fluff, so you can work out the best course of action for your business.
Q. Do I have to organize a Christmas party or function for my staff?
A. Obviously, there’s no legal requirement for you to host a party for your workers. There are some wider issues to consider here though. Just because you’re not obliged to do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t. Organizing a get-together could be a great way to thank everyone for their contribution.
If you’ve agreed to a Christmas party in your employment contracts though, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. As well, if you’ve offered this perk for many years, it could be argued that it’s an unwritten agreement.
One of the key worries among leaders is always cost. You don’t have to dole out a fortune though. Think outside the box, work with what you have, and don’t be scared to try something a little out of the ordinary.
Q. Everyone wants to take time off. How can I manage this?
A. Getting this right all comes down to the finer details of your employment contracts. You must take the time to assess the precise terms and conditions that you’ve laid out regarding how holiday can be taken. Generally speaking, staff should know how to request time off, and how decisions will be made by the management team.
If you have certain busy periods, you may decide that you’ll only accept requests for time off between certain dates in exceptional circumstances. If you had a staff member who was getting married, for example, then you may reconsider your stance.
This issue comes down to making sure that your HR policies and procedures are fit for purpose, and very clearly communicated to your staff. If you think that you might be missing the mark here, it could be time to work with an expert who’ll be able to get you on the right track.
Q. Not all of my staff are Christian. What are the implications here?
Having a diverse workforce has a multitude of benefits. You do need to make sure though that you’re conscious of differing beliefs, and the issues that could be at play. Remember that Christmas is a national holiday within the US, and it’s recognized among many religious groups (including the non-religious) as having a special status. If you have many employees from different religions, it may be worthwhile considering making arrangements to recognize other holidays that your staff may wish to celebrate.
This can seem like a minefield, but it’s very possible to devise an approach that will suit all needs. You may need some help though when it comes to understanding the relevance and important of various different holidays. As such, you might decide to hold a consultation exercise with your employees. Getting everyone involved in decisions that will have an impact on the workforce will ensure that they’re accepted.
Q. Should I give my staff a gift?
A. It’s the season to spread a little cheer, and you might decide to reward your staff with a gift. This could be a great idea. There are a few things to consider though to ensure that your gesture doesn’t end up backfiring on you.
First of all, make sure that everyone receives their gift. This includes anyone who may be away on maternity, paternity, or sick leave. You might decide to have the gifts delivered, if it seems appropriate.
As well, think carefully about the nature of the gift. A bottle of wine may seem like a good idea, though not so much if you have members of staff who abstain from alcohol. Use your common sense, and get a professional’s opinion if you’re struggling to find a way forward.
If you take the time to get things right, you don’t have to turn yourself into a Scrooge this Christmas with the worry of what to do for the best for your workforce.
To have an informal chat about your obligations and your opportunities, get in touch today.
How To Nail Your 2019 HR Planning
Any business owner who has been around the block a few times knows the importance of using the end of the year as a chance to return to their people policies, consider the achievements and challenges of the past 12 months, and do some careful planning for the future. Keeping on top of your human resources can be tricky, but it’s also essential if you want to run a successful company. Before getting stuck into any finer details, it’s wise to take a step back and think about the big issues that need your attention. Here, we’re going to provide you with the inspiration you need to make your planning as effective as possible.
Anticipate any key legislative changes
Not a year goes by without a new piece of legislation coming in that will have an impact on your business. Of course, these are often for the greater good, and will help you to build a stronger workforce. But if you’re not prepared, they can catch you off-guard and cause you significant problems.
Make sure this doesn’t happen by taking the time to anticipate any legislation that will be coming into force, and working out what you need to do
to ensure that you’re compliant. In 2019, necessary considerations are likely to include the introduction of the new minimum wage, the new overtime
regulation, and the rise of the new discrimination and sexual harassment notice.
Consider external forces that are out of your control
Often, a lot of thought is given to planning for internal factors, such as sales that you might be running, employee holidays and so on. You need to make sure though that you’re also thinking about external forces that may have a significant impact on your business. Are there any big events coming up in your area, and what will they mean for your operations? Are there any other businesses that are likely to be setting up shop, and what are the implications? Could your top talent be tempted to look elsewhere? You can rarely stop these things from happening, but you can make sure that you’re as prepared as possible.
Ask yourself whether you’re really considering strategic goals
We’re past the days of HR being all about listening and sympathy. Savvy business owners know that the function needs a seat at the table, and that it can play a significant role in meeting strategic goals. Despite this however, many leaders still aren’t using policies and practices to truly drive their organization forward. To say that this is a wasted opportunity would be a huge understatement.
How are you nurturing your teams so they can fulfill their potential? How are your performance management processes encouraging individuals to excel? Is everyone up to date and onboard with the future direction of your business, and do they understand the part that they will play? It’s easy to get caught up with all the everyday, operational concerns. These are of course important, but if you want to move forward, you need to ensure that you’re taking the time to think strategically.
Finding enough hours in the day to plan your next year can be a challenge in itself. It’s a non-negotiable though if you’re serious about smashing your goals. The good news is that you don’t have to do all of this on your own. We have many years of experience, and we can help. Get in touch today for an initial chat about how we may be able to work together.
Help! All My Staff Want Time Off Over Christmas!
So we’re quickly approaching the festive season, and everything’s going well in your business. You’ve got robust plans in place so you’re in the best possible position for maximizing your profits, and you’re feeling pretty organized and in control. All of a sudden though, you’ve got a big issue on your hands. Your staff want time off. Understandably, they want to enjoy the festivities. You hadn’t planned for this though, and you’re now in a bit of a pickle.
What should you do, and how should you approach this challenge without landing yourself in a nightmare situation?
Before we get into anything else, let’s consider where you stand in the eyes of the law. Thankfully, this is pretty clear-cut. As an employer, you have the right to determine when your staff take their leave. You can decide that you won’t accept leave requests during busier periods, including Christmas, so you aren’t obliged to give your workers the time off that they want.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should announce that everyone’s presence is required, and accept no more comments or questions on the matter. This approach will no doubt cause a great deal of unrest, and do you no favors. The best course of action here is to ensure that you’re being fair and consistent. If everyone is being treated the same, then it’s more likely that they’ll accept that you can’t necessarily accommodate all requests.
You may decide to let your staff decide between taking holiday over Christmas or New Year, but not both. If you can’t grant leave for everyone, then you might give those who missed out priority when it comes to booking in their dates for 2019. Be firm, but reasonable, and never forget that your staff are simply human beings who probably want to enjoy some time putting their feet up with their families.
And on a final note, you may want to consider offering your staff the option to work from home. If you can still meet your operational requirements, then this could prove to be a good compromise.
By now, you probably recognize that your staffing problems over the Christmas period could have largely been avoided if you’d only done a little more planning, and anticipated these issues in advance. What’s done is done, but take this as a wake-up call to get your ducks in a row for the year ahead. If you want to speak with an expert about how to manage your HR planning, get in touch today. We’ll have an initial no-obligation chat about your circumstances, and we’ll establish if we’re a good fit to work together.
How To Reward Your Staff This Christmas On a Budget
With Christmas creeping up on us, employees all over the country are pulling out the stops to ensure that they’re playing their part in driving sales and keeping happy customers coming back for more. In short, your staff are working hard to help you to get your business to where you want it to be. So shouldn’t you be rewarding them accordingly?
Of course, this is where the age-old issue of managing a budget rears its head. In an ideal world, you could give your workers a generous cash bonus to say thank you. Sometimes though, this just isn’t possible. It’s time to consider your other options. Let’s take a look at how to reward your staff this festive season while keeping a close eye on your expenditure.
Consider your total reward package
It’s long since been recognized that pay and financial incentives make up just one facet of what’s considered in the HR world to be a ‘total reward package’. Put simply, there are so many tools that you can use to motivate and compensate your staff.
If you haven’t yet started to think about the bigger picture, now’s the time. Could you offer flexible working arrangements, either right now or after the busy Christmas period? Could you offer learning and development opportunities to those who are eager to progress? Have you thought about things like pensions, healthcare, and social initiatives? When you really get to grips with total reward, you’re likely to find that you’re offering plenty that you aren’t really showcasing.
Team up with local businesses
You probably already have contacts within your local business community. You might have been introduced to other entrepreneurs at networking events, or just in the course of your day-to-day operations. Have you ever thought about teaming up with them to offer something a little out of the ordinary for your staff?
A gym might consider offering some cut-price sessions. A gift store may offer a discount. The list of possibilities is endless. This approach could also open doors in the future when it comes to collaborative working opportunities.
Never underestimate the power of ‘thank you’
When’s the last time that you stopped to say a genuine thank you to your staff? It might seem obvious, but when you’re busy, it can be really easy to forget to do this. Staff don’t always want something concrete that you can hand over to them.
Many people take an immense amount of satisfaction away from simply being told that they’re doing a good job, and that their efforts are appreciated. Why not make it your mission today to ensure that you say thanks when it’s due?
Though our focus is on Christmas right now, it’s important to note that regardless of the time of year, rewarding your staff for their hard work doesn’t always have to be purely about financial incentives. It could be time to review your systems, so you know that you’re harnessing all opportunities.
Do you need a little help when it comes to fine-tuning your reward strategy? If so, give us a call. We’ll be happy to discuss how we might be able to work together.
Four strategies for reducing absenteeism
A few years ago Forbes reported that U.S. workforce illness from sick days to worker's compensation is costing the economy $576B annually. Simply put, your staff are calling in sick and it’s having a severe impact on your bottom line. If you want to mitigate the impact, it’s time to think about how you can nip the problem in the bud.
Now of course, it’s important to note that managing absenteeism isn’t about trying to ensure that every single employee is always present and correct. Even with the best people management policies and procedures, it’s highly likely that you’ll still have to pick up the phone now and again and be told that an important member of your team can’t make it into the office today.
However, there are certain things that you can do to make sure that the occasional absence doesn’t spiral out of control and become a real problem for your business. Here, we’re going to outline some proven strategies that you can put into action.
Clearly outline your expectations
If you don’t already have an absence policy, then this needs to be a key priority. You can’t expect staff to follow your guidelines, if they don’t even exist! A good policy will outline arrangements for calling in sick, identify trigger points that indicate that absence has reached an unacceptable level, and will be clearly communicated to all staff.
Of course, your policy won’t be worth the paper it’s written on if it doesn’t become part of the way you do business on a daily basis. Line managers need to be confident with putting it into action. It’s vital that the rules are applied to everyone. If you have staff members with a disability, then there will be extra considerations that need to be made. For help with complex issues, speak with an HR consultant about your circumstances.
Always hold return-to-work discussions
After any period of absence, whether it’s three days or three months, there should be a return-to-work discussion between the individual and the line manager. It’s important that you establish the reason for the absence, assess what you might be able to do to support that person back into work, and follow the procedures outlined in your policy.
Even when schedules are busy, make sure that these conversations are always marked into the diary. When they’re carried out correctly, they can help you prevent a whole load of potential issues.
Think about how you can make reasonable adjustments to get staff back into their roles
Coming back to work after a period of absence can be daunting. What can you do to make the process more manageable? It might be that you can slightly alter roles and responsibilities so that you can encourage long-term absentees to come back to their jobs and ease themselves back into routine.
In practical terms, you could agree to shorter working hours for the first couple of weeks, or you could ensure that the staff member has a reduced workload. If you’re unsure about what you could do, talk to the individual in question to establish a way forward that will help them.
Take a flexible approach to managing the rota
It’s important to recognize that staff have a life outside of your business. They may want to attend a parents’ evening, go see their favorite band, or have to take care of serious matters such as an ill family member. If they’re forced to choose between missing out and calling in sick, then you aren’t always going to win.
Ask yourself whether it would be feasible, from an operational point of view, to add some flexibility into how working schedules are managed. From time to time, could you allow staff to swap shifts or catch up with their work later in the week? As long as you have firm boundaries in place, this kind of approach could help you to minimize problems.
If absence is an issue in your business, then the bad news is that you probably can’t make improvements overnight. You need a considered and careful approach, and it’ll certainly be a learning curve. But when you get it right, the benefits will be huge.
Do you want to discuss your challenges with a professional, and walk away with a manageable action plan so you know exactly what you need to do? Contact us today.
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