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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.

Why You Should Never Download Your People Policies Online

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Why You Should Never Download Your People Policies Online

 

What did you do the very first time that you realized that you were going to need some people policies? If you’re like most employers, then you probably carried out a quick Google search to grab what you needed to make sure that you’re compliant with the law and doing everything you can to drive performance and engagement.

 

It seems like the obvious place to start. You’ve no doubt picked up a ton of valuable business advice online during your time as an entrepreneur. So, naturally, search engines often become your trusty advisor when it comes to the things that you just don’t know.

 

However, it pays to exercise more than just a little bit of caution. You’d know better than to search for medical advice online, or just hope for the best when it comes to what you’ve heard about managing your finances… So should you really trust Google to give you the policies and templates that have the power to make or destroy your business?

 

Here’s why you might want to rethink…

 

You have no real idea where your advice is coming from

 

You don’t have to be an expert legal advisor, or even an HR consultant, to create a website and share your views and opinions online. Pretty much anyone with a laptop and the patience to watch a few YouTube videos can do it. You might say that it would be pretty pointless for someone to intentionally give you the wrong advice, and that’s probably true. But it’s not worth leaving anything to chance.

 

Working with a skilled HR professional will make sure that your documentation is informed by legal requirements and cutting-edge best practice.

 

The law changes regularly

 

What?

 

There are times in your business when doing a few online searches is going to give you exactly what you need. But when it comes to managing your most valuable asset – your people – it’s never worth cutting corners.

 

If you’re concerned about whether your practices are hitting the mark, get in touch today and we will have a no-obligation chat about where you stand and what your options are.

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Can You Really Make Your Staff Sign A Love Contract?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Can You Really Make Your Staff Sign A Love Contract?

 Love contracts have been commonplace in the US for quite some time. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s all about dedicating your life to your partner, but it’s actually something quite different. And it’s very much a workplace issue…

A love contract is a document that two employees sign to confirm that they have not been coerced into a relationship. Worryingly, it’s used as a way to prevent sexual harassment claims being made further down the line.

Generally speaking, it’s a policy that would appear in the staff handbook, and it would encourage workers to be discrete about their relationship. In many cases, it would also rule against a manager dating someone in their direct reporting line.

But is all of this actually any of your business?


And is a love contract something that you should think about bringing into force in your organization?

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, it’s something that’s worth considering.

First of all, it’s clear that you can’t make rules about falling in love. Your staff no doubt spend a big chunk of their time in the workplace, so it’s natural that strong bonds will be formed, and these can sometimes turn into something more. It’s totally acceptable to expect your staff to be discrete when this happens. After all, no one wants to see their colleagues kissing over the copy machine.

Taking away people’s right to work in an environment that’s free from harassment though is dangerous ground. It’s legally questionable, and it’s also a serious ethical issue.

The bottom line here is that you should be alert, and mindful of the issues that can arise. If workplace romances are going on, then it makes sense that you carefully manage the situation and ensure that it doesn’t turn into an HR disaster.

You may even want to include a marriage and dating policy in your staff handbook, so you’re prepared should the situation arise.

A love contract though is quite possibly a step too far…

 

Please contact us today. If we’re not able to fulfill all your HR needs, we’ll direct you to HR professionals who can.

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Expensive HR Mistakes

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Expensive HR Mistakes That Too Many Small Business Owners Are Making

 

 

Would you call yourself a ‘reluctant leader’? It’s a title that many small business owners, if they’re being completely honest, might identify with.

You started your company because you had an exciting product or service to share, and you believed in the impact that it could have on the world. As you grow there are a ton of extra responsibilities that end up on your agenda.

 

One of these is building and managing a team of productive and motivated individuals who can help you to reach those big goals. It’s a whole lot easier said than done!

 

There are some all-too-common mistakes that tons of small business owners are making. They often don’t even realize it. Let’s take a look at what they are, and what you should do about them…

 

 

Acting with the best intentions, but without understanding the law

 

 

You value your staff. You want to do your best by them. And you have absolutely no intention of doing anything that could potentially harm your business or bring it into disrepute. The reality here though is that simply trying to do what feels right and fair often just doesn’t cut it.

 

Employment law can be complex, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that you’re compliant. Do you understand, for example, the legislation around acceptable working hours? Or how you should support disabled members of staff? Or what to do if a worker is expecting a baby? If not, then you need to either improve your knowledge, or take advice from an expert.

 

Developing policies and procedures as the need arises

 

Perhaps you’ve never really considered how you would handle the situation if a member of staff started to under-perform, or if their behavior became unacceptable. Surely, you can address issues like this as and when they arise? Well, this approach certainly isn’t ideal, and it can result in all kinds of problems.

 

If you don’t have robust policies and procedures in place, then consider this your wake-up call. Not only will making changes reduce your risk of running into difficulties, but it can also help you to drive your business forward.

 

Believing that investing in help is just for the big fish

 

 

When many business owners think about working with an HR consultant, they imagine that it might be something that they’ll do years in the future, once they’ve built a huge team. However, we would like to provide affordable solutions to businesses with just a few employees, and really help them to nip problems in the bud, and create a clear growth plan for the future.

 

Seeking out help earlier can ensure that any issues don’t become deeply en-grained in your workplace culture. It can also give you a massive amount of peace of mind in your role as an employer.

 

If you’re reading this and you know that you’re guilty of making these mistakes, then get in touch. We can arrange to have a no-obligation consultation, and make a plan for getting you firmly on the right track!

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The Problem With Presenteeism

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Problem With Presenteeism

 

 

A 2011 survey from Career Builder found that 72 percent of people go to work sick. This year, a survey from Staples found that number may be even closer to 80 percent. Showing up when you’re feeling lousy, a phenomenon known as presenteeism, can actually hurt your employer. Lower-than-normal, cold-medicine-fueled productivity levels can actually cost employers more than it would if you just took a sick day, Web MD reported. Though some might say that their dedication to the job is admirable, it’s something that can cause serious problems for employers.

 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out why. Coughs, sniffles and general sickness can easily be spread among staff. Before you know it, you could have a situation on your hands that is starting to look distinctly like an epidemic. Productivity falls, and this can result in serious problems in terms of managing the day-to-day workload.

 

These issues could perhaps be linked to a feeling of being indispensable at work or really not being able to afford the time off. However, there are certain things that you can do as an employer to make sure that presenteeism doesn’t knock you off course.

 

The simplest solution here is to ensure that you have a sickness and absence policy that’s fit for purpose and focuses on supporting your staff as well as the achievement of your goals and objectives.

 

However, the problems often go much deeper than this. Lots of employees, I’m sure, feel that their workload is too great to call in sick. It may be time for you to take a look at your wider practices, and assess where problems might exist that need to be addressed.

 

There’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of supporting staff with mental health issues, and tackling the stigma that often exists around non-physical health and well-being. When creating your sickness and absence policies, it’s vital that you consider how you’ll be playing your part in creating positive change.

 

If you have issues in your workplace surrounding sickness absence, then it may be time to call in the professionals. We can assess the effectiveness of your existing policies and procedures, ensure that you’re compliant with relevant legislation, and help you to move forward towards exemplary leadership. Give us a call today to arrange your initial no-obligation consultation.

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What Business Owners Need To Know About Ramadan

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, July 12, 2016

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Calling Last Orders On The Post-Work Drink?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Calling Last Orders On The Post-Work Drink?

 

The tradition of enjoying a cold beer after a hard day at work is one that’s been carried down through generations. Plenty of us are familiar with the comforting feeling of putting the world to rights over a few drinks with colleagues.

 

The world’s changing though and the law has caught up.

 

Every state in the U.S. and the District of Columbia now have per se drunk driving laws, which means that if a driver is found to have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater, that driver is guilty of driving under the influence based on that evidence alone. However, there is an effort by advocates to further lower that limit to 0.05 or lower, as it is in most European countries. Many states, if not all, have laws that increase the penalties for drivers whose blood-alcohol content levels are recorded at a certain level over the legal limit. Usually if someone has a BAC of 0.15 or 0.20 the penalties for DUI are enhanced.

 

So what does this mean for business owners?

 

Should you develop a policy on driving? What are your responsibilities? Could your staff bring your business into disrepute after a few too many? How exactly are you supposed to navigate the minefield of everyone getting home safely after an organized work get-together?

Spend a few minutes thinking about it, and it’s easy to see how a friendly tradition can become an HR nightmare.

You could of course argue that your staff are adults and that making sensible choices ultimately comes down to them. And that’s true. After all, you’re not a schoolteacher or a caregiver.

A good leader is one who encourages autonomy and empowers their workers to make their own decisions. At the end of the day, you can only have a certain level of impact on your employees once they clock out. It may be sensible to make timely reminders about the drink driving laws, especially during times of celebration, but in reality, there’s little that you can do when staff are on their own time.

If hangovers are getting in the way of getting the job done, then obviously that’s an issue that needs to be addressed immediately, and drinking during working hours should never be accepted.

But let’s put savvy business decisions and simple common sense aside here for a second. Let’s suppose that you’re organizing a social event after work and you know that drinks are likely to be flowing.

The right thing to do is always the right thing to do. Sometimes, it’s less about considering your budget and the finer details of whether you can afford to pay for transportation home after your get-together. It’s more about being a responsible employer and realizing that in the grand scheme of things, a few taxis aren’t going to break the bank.

 

Know the law. Take action on what simply isn’t acceptable. Take responsibility, but accept that there are limitations to just how much you can do.

And if alcohol is causing problems that are starting to escalate out of control, get in touch. A confidential chat with us could help you to get things back on the right track without any hassle or fuss. There’s no reason why your HR practices should leave you feeling like you need a stiff drink.

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Bad HR Habits That Could End Your Business

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bad HR Habits That Could End Your Business

 

 

We all know that bad habits in our personal lives can lead to serious problems. From trying to adopt a healthier diet all the way through to kicking cigarettes, most of us have experienced a time when we recognized that changes had to be made.

But have you ever stopped to think about the HR habits that could be having a seriously negative impact on your business? Like many less than favorable behaviors, we sometimes don’t realize that they’re a problem until they’ve spiraled out of control. Here, we identify some bad HR habits that you might be committing.

 

Carrying out annual reviews

Wait a minute – why exactly is this a bad habit? Shouldn’t you be making sure that performance discussions are taking place? Of course you should. But if they’re only happening once a year, then you’re missing a trick. Managing and improving performance needs to be built into your everyday working practices. If it’s not, then you can’t realistically expect to improve productivity.

 

Being stuck in the past

 

You don’t need us to tell you that the world of business is moving faster than ever before. You’re probably utilizing modern tactics when it comes to your marketing, for example, but what about your HR? It could be time to ditch the notion that HR lives in the filing cabinet and bring your business up to speed. A few savvy investments in technology and software could yield a huge return.

 

Thinking that training and learning are one and the same

 

There’s no denying that training can be expensive. Send a few employees to a conference, book in some places on an external course, or bring in a professional trainer for a couple of days and your bill will be hefty. Sometimes, formal training is essential. But what’s arguably much more important is ongoing learning within the workplace. Nurturing your talent isn’t a one-time event – it’s about what happens in your business on a day-to-day basis.

Bad habits are often deeply engraved into a business’s culture, but that doesn’t mean that you should just ignore them and hope for the best. Tackling these issues head-on is the only option. Need a little help for working out your next steps? Get in touch today.

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Do you know how to handle office romances? Find out more:

Tiffany Boyes - Thursday, May 05, 2016

How To Handle Office Romances

With many of us spending more and more time at the office, it’s no surprise that many working relationships blossom into something a little more intimate. In fact, research carried out by CareerBuilder.com found that 38% of workers have dated a colleague at some point in their working lives.

As an employer though, you’d be right to be a little cautious about what the implications could be for your business. If you suspect that there’s an office romance, you may be concerned about the impact that this could have on your team or what might happen if things turn sour.

Spring is in the air, so now is a great time to consider what some of the best practice is on this subject. Without any further ado, here’s what you need to know:

Accept that these things happen

It would be unreasonable to try to implement any kind of policy that banned romantic relationships between employees. Also, it probably wouldn’t act as a deterrent. If anything, you’d be simply creating a culture of secrecy and mistrust.

The bottom line here is that these things happen and, as a leader, you have to accept it.

Nip any problems in the bud ASAP

Public displays of affection aren’t appropriate in the workplace. No one wants to see PDA by the water cooler, or have to navigate their way through a kissing couple just to get to the break-room. Luckily, most couples will know this already, and will often do everything they can to make sure that there are no awkward moments for their colleagues.

If you do feel that boundaries are being crossed, you need to take action as soon as possible. Have a discreet word with both individuals, explain your worries, and remind them of what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

Consider the team as a whole


You’re probably not in the office all day long, every day of the week. So in many ways, you only get a very limited snapshot of what’s going on and how everyone’s interacting on a day-to-day basis. This means that you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to monitoring sentiment.

Of course, this is a larger issue surrounding workplace culture and it covers more than just office romances. Keeping your finger on the pulse and collecting meaningful, insightful feedback from your staff on a regular basis will ensure that you’re creating a productive, motivated, and happy workforce – if, of course, you’re taking action on your findings.

Don’t take sides if things go wrong

Many employers worry about the potential fallout of office relationships turning sour. It’s essential that you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario. Stay impartial, try to exercise a degree of understanding and sympathy, but make sure that you keep overall business objectives and priorities in sight.

Of course, it’s vital that you can recognize the difference between a break-up and something more sinister. Your policies and procedures on serious matters such as sexual harassment and bullying should be tough and always implemented.

If you’ve got these key areas covered, romance at work doesn’t have to leave you feeling stressed out and uncertain about what to do for the best. If you feel like you need to ensure that you’re prepared for anything that your business might throw at you this year, we can help to make sure that you’re ready. Give us a call to arrange a consultation.

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HR Tasks To Tick Off Your List This Month

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, May 03, 2016

HR Tasks To Tick Off Your List This Month

 

 

Managing your workforce isn’t always about big projects and rolling out transformational change. If you want to get the best out of your greatest asset, then you need to make sure that you’re doing the necessary work on a very regular basis.

Taking a little time each month to keep on top of things can end up saving you a whole load of hassle in the long term. So what should you be doing in May to keep your business on the right track? Read on for pointers.

 

 

Get the summer vacations/holidays sorted

 

At this time of year, your staff are starting to think about jetting off to sunnier climates. If you don’t get yourself prepared, then you may find yourself in a bit of a pickle. You need to allocate leave fairly and ensure that everyone knows about the arrangements. Now’s a good time to refer to any existing policies that you might have and update them if necessary. As a side note, it might be time for you to consider taking some time away from the office too. You’re no use to your team if you’re stressed and tired.

 

Consider your cold, hard figures

 

When some leaders think about HR, they think about fluff without any real substance. The function has completely transformed in recent years and the smartest business owners know that it isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ – it’s completely non-negotiable if you’re serious about sustainable growth. So with this in mind, and considering the fact that we’ve just come to the end of another financial year, it’s time to look at your numbers. How much are you spending on staffing? What activities are bringing the greatest return on investment? Only once you know where you are, can you create a map to where you want to be.

 

Book yourself in for an HR health-check

 

The vast majority of business owners do everything they can to comply with relevant employment legislation and create practices and policies that make their workplace a happy environment. Let’s be honest though – we all have constraints on our time, and it’s not always possible to go the extra mile. If you know that you’ve been putting HR on the back-burner, then there’s no time like the present to review how you’re really performing and what you could do to improve your business.

If you’d like a little special assistance without committing to a tying contract, then you’re in luck. Our HR health-check service is just the ticket if you feel like it could be time to step back and take stock, before creating your plans for the future. Give us a call today and we’ll explain more about how you can book your spot.

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Find out how Your Business can Avoid Costly and Reputation-Damaging Legal Action:

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How to avoid costly legal action against your business

When you’re an HR consultant, you often find yourself having in-depth conversations about how business owners can avoid legal action. Of course, we offer services that go way beyond this. We can help you to boost your profits, create a happier and more productive workforce, and achieve your big strategic goals.

However, steering clear of expensive and potentially reputation-damaging legal action is something that many leaders are very keen to do, for obvious reasons. If you’re worried about ending up on the wrong side of the law, then it’s important that you take some positive steps towards minimizing the risk.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to keep your business practices compliant, up to date, and above board.

Know the law

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep up to date with the law. New pieces of legislation are passed on a regular basis, so it’s vital that you stay on the ball. The last thing that you want is to find out that new provisions came into force, rendering your existing policies and procedures unlawful.

This might seem like a huge burden, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider working with an HR consultant on a retainer basis. This will ensure that you get the information that you need well in advance, and are given useful, practical advice so that you can make the necessary changes.

Consistently implement people policies

People policies are there for a very good reason. They outline acceptable standards of behavior, make your expectations clear, and map out what will happen if a problem occurs. If you decide that they should only be applied to some staff, some of the time, then you could be accused of discrimination.

The bottom line here is that your whole workforce should be held to the same standards. You’ve no doubt spent a great deal of time creating and implementing your policies. They’re there to help you, so use them properly!

Always keep records

If any problems arise, having a comprehensive paper trail can be extremely useful. Your documentation should clearly outline the details of each stage of everyday employment situations, such as absences, performance discussions, grievances, and so on.

These days, you can find solutions that will allow you to safely store information of this nature online or on encrypted systems. This isn’t always necessary, but it could save you time. Whichever route you decide to go down, make sure your records are up to date, accurate, and confidential.

Give your line managers the capability they need

As your business grows, it’s unlikely that you’ll be personally handling all people management practices. By ensuring your line managers have the HR training that they need, you could avoid finding yourself in a situation where your operations aren’t compliant with the law.

It’s down to you to make sure that your managers are consistently compliant. When you invest in your leadership team, you’ll find that many potentially volatile incidents can be quickly defused before they spiral out of control.

Not many business owners would intentionally break the law when it comes to how they treat their greatest asset – their people. But if you aren’t vigilant, you could find yourself in a tricky situation.

If you’ve decided that it’s time to put your niggling worries to bed once and for all when it comes to complying with employment legislation, then get in touch. We can arrange an initial review of your existing practices. 




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