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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.

Mistakes Business Owners Make With Employee Handbooks

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Five Mistakes That Business Owners Make With Employee Handbooks

 

 

 

According to a study by XpertHR, 92% of companies have created employee handbooks to share with their staff. But the finished document is about so much more than just listing your policies and sharing some mission statements that you’ve cobbled together over a cup of coffee with your managers.

 

Based on the statistics, you’ve probably made a token attempt at creating an employee handbook for your business – but are you missing the mark? Here, we uncover the mistakes that too many leaders are making and explain how you can turn things around.

 

Taking a cookie-cutter approach

 

 

 

Sure, there are certain things that all employee handbooks should include. But this certainly doesn’t mean that you should just download a free template from Google, fill in the blanks and hope for the best. Your business is unique. Its culture and practices make it individual and your handbook needs to reflect this. After all, first impressions count. So, you need to make sure that you’re giving your new recruits a quality document that reflects what you’re really all about.

 

Don’t be scared to showcase your business’s personality and create something that demonstrates what it’s like to work for your company. Your latest recruits should feel inspired, motivated and ready to face their new challenges.

 

Speaking in legal lingo

 

 

 

Your HR practices need to be created in accordance with relevant legislation. Staying on the right side of the law will save you a whole load of time and hassle. Before stuffing your handbook with jargon though, take a step back and think about how you can make the important information as easy as possible to digest. A better understanding of what’s expected will ultimately lead to higher rates of compliance.

 

Consider your audience and keep things as straightforward as possible. At the end of the day, your handbook should be there to help people – not overwhelm them.

 

Letting the document gather dust

 

 

 

The world of business changes and adapts every single day. New legislation is rolled out, light is cast on exciting and innovative ways to get the most out of a workforce, and advances in technology present new challenges. What works right now isn’t necessarily going to be fit for purpose in the near future.

 

Before signing off on your document as completed, set a date for review. Keeping on top of changes can be a manageable job only if you make sure that you don’t let the grass grow under your feet. Shockingly, 2.8% of employers don’t know when they last carried out any reviews or changes – don’t fall into this camp!

 

Neglecting to seek out a professional opinion

 

 

 

You wouldn’t finalize your end-of-year accounts without speaking to an accountant, so why should your employment documentation be any different? An HR professional will be able to advise you on anything that you might have missed, unearth any points that could potentially get you into hot water and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that everything’s in order.

 

Ready to seek out some advice that you know you can trust? Whether you’re starting from scratch with your handbook and you’re not sure where to begin, or you’ve done the work yourself and just want a second opinion, we can help. Give us a call right away for a no-obligation chat about working together.

 

Forgetting to make sure that every employee has their copy

 

 

 

Creating a document to be proud of is only the first part of the story. It isn’t going to make any difference unless you ensure that all employees get their copy, and that they’re given time to digest the information. These days, this is easier than ever before. Many companies decide to distribute their handbooks via email or an intranet system.

 

And finally, be sure to lead by example. When’s the last time that you familiarized yourself with the content? Do you have a copy on your desk? Are you confident that you could answer questions about the points that are covered? If not, consider this your wake-up call!

 

So what changes will you be making?

 

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How To Manage An Employee's Leave of Absence

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Managing an Employee’s Leave of Absence   …read more


 

Should I Tell Anyone What Happened?

Carolyn Boyes - Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Should I Tell Anyone What Happened?

By now, most everyone is familiar with the MeToo movement.Do you think you may have been sexually harassed?Here’s the official definition that may help determine the answer:

*Sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the courts define "sexual harassment" as unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that:

  • Explicitly or implicitly affects a term or condition of an individual's employment
  • Unreasonably interferes with an employee's work performance
  • Creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment
  • Sexual harassment can be:

  • Physical, including unwelcome touching or gesturing
  • Verbal, including unwelcome requests for a date or sexual favors or lewd remarks or sounds
  • Visual, including unwelcome exposure to sexual photos, cartoons, or drawings
  • Just as there are many companies that have and enforce good Sexual Harassment Policies, there are just as many companies who have poor policies or no policies at all, and enforce nothing.

    Regardless of which company you work for, if something happens, you MUST tell someone.But who?Preferably your direct manager and/or Human Resources.But what if your direct manager is the person who harassed you or you don’t have an HR Department?Then go to the next level manager.

    I’ve heard all the reasons why people don’t want to report questionable behavior which focus primarily around fear of losing your job or not wanting to “get someone in trouble”. Do not listen to that little devil on your shoulder.Listen to the other shoulder that is saying you have a right to work in a place that is respectful and where you feel safe and free of any type of harassment.No job is worth being harassed.There are other jobs out there.

    At the very least, tell a co-worker who you know is supportive and ask them to go with you when you tell.

    Why should you tell?Because you don’t want the individual to harass others.Because as I said above, you have a right to work in a place that is free of harassment (it’s the law!). Because it gives you credibility.Credibility is huge.Were there any witnesses to the event?HR will want these names and they will interview these people.If they corroborate your story, there you go, you have instant credibility.Even if there were not any witnesses, but you told someone, and they confirm that you told them – you still gain credibility.That somewhat lessens the problem of “he said, she said”.

    If you wait a year, or longer, HR will ask you why you didn’t tell anyone…. Is there some reason you’re bringing this up now and didn’t then?In other words, are you trying to “get back” at the person for some reason?Or perhaps the relationship was consensual to begin with, but now the person broke up with you or is treating you poorly and you’re out for retaliation.As you can see, things get complicated quickly.But if you’re innocent and are telling the truth, you MUST tell.DO NOT lie, do not make things up – this just ruins it for the true innocent victims in the workplace and you will get caught in your lies.

    Not sure if you’ve been harassed?Don’t have HR to tell?Contact us and we’ll help you walk through the options.

    *Source: BLR

     

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    You Promised “Not To Tell”…..but Should You???

    Carolyn Boyes - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

    You Promised “Not To Tell”…..but Should You???

    Did someone entrust a secret with you?Are you the person that the victim of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior had the courage to tell but then said – “please don’t tell anyone; I don’t want to get anyone into trouble”. Are you the friend, the co-worker, the manager?

    Did you promise not to tell?And now you’re wondering if you should?Or maybe it is now 20 years later and you’re kicking yourself because you didn’t?

    As an HR professional, one of the things we learn early on is to never promise not to tell.We have a responsibility to tell, an obligation to inform management that an allegation was made and investigation is being completed.Why?Protect the company from legal risk; ensure a safe work place for all employees; individual managers can be sued as individuals; be proactive; uncover the truth; ensure the person who made the allegation is heard and taken seriously.Why? Because we, of all people, need to do the right thing.

    But you’re just a friend or a co-worker?Or maybe you’re a manager but you’re not the individual’s manager?Managers, just like HR, have the same obligation and responsibility to tell – even if you are not the direct manager.You are still an agent/representative of the company.You are a friend of co-worker?Many companies have an HR Policy that requires you to bring forth any inappropriate information you become aware of as well and to cooperate with any investigation.

    The victim may be subconsciously asking for you to “help be their voice”. They want someone in authority to know, but they don’t have the courage to go it alone.So help be their voice.Go with them to HR and support them as they tell their story.You’re concerned about your own job?Really?Set aside your selfishness and have compassion on the person who may have gone through the most horrible experience of their life.If you lose your job over helping them speak, then I don’t know that the place you were working, is worth having you anyway.Of course, you’ll want to be completely confident that the person is telling the truth.

    Is the #MeToo culture we live in today really changing things from the “don’t tell anyone” culture from earlier years?I hope so.But I’m also familiar enough with this topic to know that there are numerous people out there who have not yet shared their story, not yet told anyone.I hope they are getting the courage to come forward and tell.And those of you who don’t have a story, don’t make one up, don’t lie.

    In summary - You promised not to tell.First of all, don’t promise.If you did, then go back to the individual and explain that you have a responsibility to tell.You will go with them if they want to tell the story.But you must tell, even if they don’t.

    Give us a call today for an informal chat about your circumstances. If we are unable to meet all of your HR needs, we will direct you to an HR professional who can.


     

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    Do You Lead With A Servant’s Heart?

    Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, January 29, 2019

    Do You Lead With A Servant’s Heart?

    What does it mean to have a servant’s heart? It means that you not only put other’s needs in front of your own, but that you serve with the right motivation. Looking for rewards or recognition should not be the ultimate goal, nor is it the way to true leadership. The focus, instead, should be on looking out for the good of the whole.

    The best supervisors and managers don’t “boss” their employees around, instead they are an example of what they expect from others. A good example of displaying this is to not be above the menial tasks. The owner of a company I work for has no problem emptying the shredder or picking up a piece of trash. This in turn motivates everyone else to pitch in and do what needs to be done. Even if it’s “not your job”. I’ve always been one to do the little things, but it makes an impact to see the company’s owner and your managers do the same. It shows that effective leadership can motivate employees to perform at their best. In this way, goals are achieved and departments meet or exceed set standards. In a nutshell, developing effective leaders among your managerial staff is essential to the success of your organization.

    So, how does one become a servant leader? It’s simply a matter of following a few easy steps. Instead of spending time defining expectations for your employees, spend it recognizing how you can support them. Stay accountable to your team. Ask for feedback on your actions. Focus on giving power away rather than accumulating it. According to Matt Tenney, author of Serve To Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom, “When the focus is on serving team members, leaders can create a team culture that people want to be a part of, that produces superior results, and that has a positive impact on society as a whole. When this happens, leaders win, too, because they get promoted faster and create the conditions for sustainable, long-term success. Perhaps more important, they actually enjoy going to work each day, and the people on their teams do too.”

    Being a servant leader can be immensely rewarding both on a personal as well as professional level. However, it can be challenging to switch the mindset from being a “boss” to being a true servant leader. Following these steps is just the beginning. Communicating with your team and really finding out what works best for your business is key.

    Does this sound like something you would like to take on, then we want to help. We can support you through your goals and help you reach your full potential. Give us a call today for an informal chat about your circumstances. If we are unable to meet all of your HR needs, we will direct you to an HR professional who can.

     

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    Three ways to rocket your team’s performance in 2019

    Tiffany Boyes - Wednesday, December 12, 2018

    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.

     

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    Secrets To Overcoming The January Productivity Slump

    Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, December 04, 2018

    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.

     

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    Is Your Customer Service Slipping?

    Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, November 27, 2018

    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

     

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    All The Answers You Need To Your Christmas HR Questions

    Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, November 20, 2018

    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.

     

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    How To Nail Your 2019 HR Planning

    Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, November 13, 2018

    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.

     

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