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HR U Can Trust Blog

A blog providing trustworthy Human Resources advice to business owners, managers and employees plus the occasional LOL true story from the workplace.

Help! All My Staff Want Time Off Over Christmas!

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, November 06, 2018

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.

 

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Four strategies for reducing absenteeism

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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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Three Very Modern HR Mistakes That Could Cost You Thousands

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, August 07, 2018

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.

 

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Are Your Employees Coming To Work Ill?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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…

 

  • Create a medical leave policy
  •  

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.

 

  • Ensure that you hold back-to-work meetings
  •  

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.

 

  • Don’t neglect the problems that can’t be seen
  •  

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.

 

  • Lead by example
  •  

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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The World Cup And The Workplace

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The World Cup And The Workplace   …read more


 

Should HR Be Encouraging More Women To Save?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Should HR Be Encouraging More Women To Save?   …read more


 

Important HR Tasks For The New Financial Year

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Important HR Tasks For The New Financial Year   …read more


 

​Essential Questions That You Need To Ask HR Software Vendors

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Essential Questions That You Need To Ask HR Software Vendors   …read more


 

How To Handle Blossoming Romances In Your Workplace

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How To Handle Blossoming Romances In Your Workplace

 

 

Dating apps might often be considered as the modern way to find a romantic partner, but plenty of people still find love at work. According to a study by Approved Index, 65% of office workers have been involved in at least one workplace relationship during the course of their career. And of course, it’s hardly surprising. Many of us see our coworkers much more than we see our family and friends, so it’s natural that working relationships sometimes blossom into much more.

 

But as the boss, relationships between your coworkers can seem like a disaster waiting to happen. With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s a great time to think about what your approach should be, and the challenges that you should be aware of. Here’s our advice…

 

 

Be a realist and keep calm

 

 

Plenty of workplace relationships have a happy ending. In the majority of circumstances, you’re going to experience no problems whatsoever if your workers start seeing each other romantically away from the office. Your staff are likely to want to be discreet, and there’s usually no need for any intervention whatsoever on your behalf.

 

 

Nip any problems in the bud

 

 

It would be hugely inappropriate for your staff to share a kiss over the photocopier. If a line manager starts showing preferential treatment to a team member because of their relationship outside the office, that’s a problem. Similarly, gossip could get out of hand and create a bad atmosphere.

When something like this happens, it’s important that you act quickly and seek to find a suitable resolution. Sometimes, that could be as simple as having a quiet word with the members of staff involved. There’s rarely a case when doing nothing and hoping that everything sorts itself out is a wise approach. Where relevant, always act in accordance with your people policies.

 

 

Take harassment claims seriously

 

 

There’s a very big difference between a consensual relationship and unwanted advances, and as an employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure that you take harassment claims seriously and act swiftly. If you don’t already have a policy that covers exactly how you’ll handle such matters, then it’s absolutely vital that you get that covered.

The policy should be clear and well communicated. Also, it’s essential that your line managers have the skills, understanding and confidence to see that it’s enforced. If a member of staff came to you today and claimed that they were being sexually harassed, would you know exactly what to do? If not, this needs to take a top spot on your to do list.

Managing and leading human beings is a complex business. We all need to recognize that we’re not dealing with robots here. Emotions and relationships and affairs of the heart might not strictly be your line of business, but when you’re running the show, they’re things that you’ll probably have to deal with at one point or another. It doesn’t have to be a drama, but it does have to be something that you’ve considered.

 

For guidance on your people policy, contact us today. If we can not fulfill your HR needs, we will direct you to HR professionals who can.

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Three Signs That You Do NOT Need To Work With An HR Consultant

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Three Signs That You Do NOT Need To Work With An HR Consultant

 

You might think that because we run an HR consultancy, we have a list a mile long of all the reasons why you should definitely work with an HR professional to help you to hit your business goals. It’s true that there are many ways in which we can help you to hit those targets and create a positive, productive workplace. But it’s also true that we know that we can’t help everyone. There are some people who just aren’t in the right position to use our services, and if you’re on the fence right now about what your next moves should be, then we want to make sure that you’ve got all the information you need.

 

Let’s explore three of the biggest reasons why now might not be the right time to look at outsourcing your HR practices…

 

 

You’re at the stage where it’s necessary to employ a permanent HR member of staff

 

 

HR consultancy can be a great option for small and emerging businesses that could benefit from knowledge and expertise on matters relating to personnel management, but are not yet ready or able to bring on a permanent employee. There often comes a point though when it just makes better sense all round to build your own HR team.

There are obvious benefits of having a dedicated HR member of staff who knows your business inside out, and is out there operating on the front line each and every day. Most of our clients aren’t quite yet at that stage, though many do plan to get there in the not too distant future. Your HR function should grow with your business, and it’s important to carefully assess your needs.

 

You’ve got a wealth of knowledge on the nuances of employment law and its application

 

Employment law can be complex, to say the least. Keeping on top of changes and ensuring that your business is fully compliant can almost be a full-time job in its own right. Depending on your background though, you might feel like your knowledge is up to date and will keep you on the right side of compliance for a long time to come.

It’s true that many of our clients are business owners whose skills and talents are very much in a different area, and so they choose to outsource the tasks where there are gaps in their knowledge. We’re their eyes and ears when it comes to searching out new developments, and seamlessly bringing their practices up to date. If you have a deep understanding of employment law, you might be able to do this for yourself.

 

You’re not willing to have open and frank conversations with your consultant

 

 

So many businesses have problems of varying sizes bubbling away beneath the surface. Leading human beings can be a complicated and messy business. It’s inevitable that mistakes will sometimes be made. When you’re outsourcing, you’re only going to take value away from your relationship with your consultant if you’re willing to have honest conversations. This includes giving them access to everything they need… The good, the bad, and the ugly.

It can be overwhelming and daunting, but a good HR consultant is not there to judge, or to point the finger of blame. Of course, your confidentiality will always be a key priority.

If you would like to discuss whether working with an HR consultant is right for you, get in touch today for an initial no-obligation consultation. We can discuss your current challenges, and the options that are available to you.

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