Do you have any illegal immigrants working for you? …read more
A blog providing trustworthy Human Resources advice to business owners, managers and employees plus the occasional LOL true story from the workplace.
Do you have any illegal immigrants working for you? …read more
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?
Managing Your Own Medical Leave Of Absence …read more
Managing an Employee’s Leave of Absence …read more
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.
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.
Three Very Modern HR Mistakes That Could Cost You Thousands
When it comes to HR mistakes, there are some classic blunders that most business owners are aware of and know they need to avoid. We all know, for example, the perils of not having policy documents in place to guide our processes. We also know the steps we need to follow if an employee is under performing.
Thanks to advances in technology and an ever-changing HR landscape, there are some very modern issues that we need to be aware of. Let’s take a look at what they are and how you can avoid making expensive mistakes…
Downloading your policy documents online from an unknown provider
These days, it’s never been easier to create a new policy for any aspect of your HR management processes. A quick Google search will bring up hundreds of templates, that you can either download for free or pay just a few pounds for. On one hand, it’s a positive thing. HR advice and guidance has never been so readily available. The information is right at your fingertips.
It’s essential though that you don’t overlook the potential dangers. The policies that you might unearth could be outdated, not in line with current legislation, or at odds with best practice. To avoid making seriously costly mistakes, always make sure that you can trust the source and that you do your due diligence. Getting a little tailored HR advice could serve you for a long time to come. This will also ensure that all your processes and documentation are fit for purpose.
Viewing social media as the enemy
If you want to take a skeptical point of view, there are tons of reasons why social media can be a challenge for business owners. It can be a distraction and can damage productivity levels. Your staff could bring your business into disrepute by publically sharing controversial beliefs or opinions. And of course, we’ve all heard a tale or two about disgruntled employees turning to social media to voice their experiences of working for a particular business.
It’s true that these are things that you might need to consider. But the companies that are really going to thrive over the next few years aren’t the ones who are imagining the problems that they’ll have to firefight. They’re the ones who are turning to social media to find the brightest talent in their industries. They’re the ones building strong employer brands with creative social media strategies. Ultimately, they’re the ones using social platforms as a force for good and a springboard to drive their wider objectives.
Buying into fads and gimmicks
In many businesses, HR practices have had a serious makeover in recent years. From working at home initiatives really taking off, to fun and inspiring work spaces that grab media headlines, there’s been a ton of innovation. Many of these changes have been extremely positive things. But if you want to create lasting and positive change, it’s essential that you dive deeper beneath the surface.
Take Google, for example. You’ve no doubt read about their in-house massage rooms, free gourmet food and rock climbing walls. But really, these aren’t the things that are truly driving success. A solid HR policy that helps a business to smash strategic goals is holistic and complex. If you’re looking to innovate, never forget that what you read in the papers is never the full story.
Have you fallen into the trap of making any of these mistakes? What steps can you take to get things back on the right track? Contact us today for a free consultation.
Are Your Employees Coming To Work Ill?
A survey by NSF International stated that at least 26 percent of American workers admit to going to work when they are sick, with men being twice as likely to show up at the office while ill than women. 42 percent say it’s because they fear missing deadlines or having to make up too much work, 25 percent say their boss expects them to go to work no matter what.
On the surface, statistics like these can seem to demonstrate that employees are loyal. They don’t want to let their colleagues down. They don’t want to make a fuss. They want to ensure that they get their work done and make their contribution to the bottom line.
It’s true that the root cause can be positive feelings, but in reality, it can be a serious problem. Their productivity is likely to suffer, their morale can go through the floor, and there’s quite often the risk of illnesses being passed to other workers, which amplifies the problem.
And of course, we need to remember that as an employer, you’ve got a duty of care. If you have a workplace culture that frowns upon taking time off – even when it’s for genuine reasons – then you’ve got a problem on your hands. Ultimately, it can lead to lower retention rates, higher costs and a damaged employer brand.
So what can you do about it? Here are some areas that you might want to consider…
Do your staff know what they should do if they need to attend a medical or dental appointment during working hours? Managing things on a case-by-case basis can cause problems. It’s also important that all members of staff know what the provisions are.
Some members of staff may feel anxious or worried about the prospect of returning to work after a period of illness, even if it’s only a few days. Make sure that you’re carrying out back-to-work meetings so you can bring your employee up to speed, and they know that they’ll be supported.
If someone is suffering from the flu, that’s often pretty obvious. Many other issues though, such as stress and depression, can sometimes be hidden. Make sure that your agenda and policies are inclusive and also tackle the areas which are less black and white.
Listen, we completely understand that you’re a busy leader with work to do. But if you’re seen showing up at the office when you’re quite clearly unwell, it’s sending the wrong message about what’s expected. Learn to recognize when taking a break is the best option.
Battling presenteeism isn’t an overnight thing, and there are rarely quick fixes. It requires a shift in culture and good practice being encouraged and supported over a longer period of time. However, it is an important issue, and it deserves a place on your agenda.
For help with your HR needs, get in touch with us today. If we are not able to support all of your HR needs, we will be happy to direct you to a HR professional who can.
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