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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.

Discover Four Practical Strategies for Managing Absence in Your Workplace:

Tiffany Boyes - Thursday, March 17, 2016

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. 

  …read more


 

Discover the Five-step Process for Effectively Managing any Employee Grievance:

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Five critical actions for managing an employee grievance

If a member of your staff brought up a grievance, would you know how to handle it? Regardless of how good your people practices may be and how capable your line managers are, you might find yourself in a situation where you need to follow a formal grievance procedure.

This procedure should be included in your staff handbook and it should always be followed to the letter. It’s crucially important because it can help you to nip any problems in the bud and keep your business out of costly employment tribunals.

Here we’re going to outline the five critical steps that you need to cover.

1.    Informal discussion

All grievances should be taken seriously, so it’s vital that you address the problem head-on rather than attempt to brush the issue under the carpet, in the hope that it will just disappear or fix itself. However, there’s no need to blow things out of proportion. Many problems can be handled with an informal chat between the employee and their line manager.

If a suitable outcome can’t be reached, then the employee should be asked to submit a formal grievance letter, if they haven’t already done so.

2.    Formal meeting

At this stage, the issue needs to be discussed in more depth. The meeting should of course be held in a confidential setting, chaired by the manager designated to handle the full grievance process. Your employee should be advised that they can bring along a colleague or trade union representative.

Collect as much information as possible and ask plenty of questions. It’s always wise to remain impartial and to treat the meeting as a fact-finding mission before going away to tie up loose ends and verify the finer details.

3.    Investigation

If the issues being discussed are particularly complex, then it may be necessary for you to pause proceedings for a short period of time to gather more information and cross-reference the accounts that you’ve received.

Though it’s important that you’re thorough here, be mindful that the time is ticking. Having unresolved grievance procedures ticking on can have a real, tangible negative impact on your workforce. Wherever possible, give your employee a date that they can expect to hear the outcome by. Managing expectations is critical and shows that you’re treating the situation with importance.

4.    Make and communicate your final decision

At this stage, the employer must decide whether to uphold or dismiss the grievance. The decision should be communicated to the employee in writing. They should also be provided with notes and minutes from any formal grievance meetings that were held as part of the process.

To fulfill your obligations here, you’ll need to make sure that all paperwork is carefully collated throughout the procedure. It should go without saying that your records need to be timely, accurate and confidential.

5.    Offer the right to appeal

It would be easy to assume that once the final decision has been communicated, everything is done and dusted. This isn’t the case though. You need to offer the option of an appeal, which would essentially restart the entire process.

To minimise the potential impact of bias, the case should be handed over to another manager wherever possible.

The very nature of grievances procedures means that they can be uncomfortable for everyone involved. However, they’re sometimes unavoidable and you need to be sure that you can handle the situation in line with your responsibilities as an employer.

If you’re handling a particularly contentious grievance procedure, or it’s your first time navigating your way through the process, then bringing in some external help from an HR professional could help you ease the load and get the best possible outcome. To have an initial chat about how we could work together, get in touch today.



  …read more


 

Flip Flop Friday?!!

Carolyn Boyes - Monday, July 27, 2015

Does your place of business allow flip flops?? I bet they do if you are in California! I don’t know if it’s true (I’d love some feedback) but my sense is that many businesses that are in warm climates, allow a much more casual workplace that includes flip flops every day of the week, not just Friday. I’m picturing a company like Google where it seems, according to the press anyway, that employees show up to work in shorts and flip flops. Dress code is often highly influenced by U.S. regions and climate. Again, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it seems like employers on the East coast (i.e. NY and East), are more formal than the Midwest.  …read more


 

Personal Use of Company Computer Systems and Personal Devices – does an employee have a right to privacy?

Carolyn Boyes - Monday, June 02, 2014

Your Human Resources Policy states that the Company computer systems and devices provided to employees are intended for business purposes and may be used only during work time. However, the policy goes on to state that limited personal use is permitted during non-work time (breaks, lunch) if it doesn’t hinder job performance or violate any other Company policy.  …read more


 

Personal Use of Company Computer Systems and Personal Devices

Carolyn Boyes - Thursday, May 15, 2014

Your Human Resources Policy states that the Company computer systems and devices provided to employees are intended for business purposes and may be used only during work time. However, the policy goes on to state that limited personal use is permitted if it doesn’t hinder job performance or violate any other Company policy.  …read more


 

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