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.

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 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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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. 

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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.

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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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