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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.

How To Use Your Greatest Asset To Maximize Profits in The Final Quarter

Tiffany Boyes - Thursday, October 20, 2016

How To Use Your Greatest Asset To Maximize Profits in The Final Quarter

 

 

At this time of the year, savvy business owners are starting to really knuckle down on the tactics that they’ll use to make the most of the opportunity that’s presented in the final quarter. Perhaps you’re rolling out special offers in your stores to entice festive spending, or maybe you have an exciting new line of products that you’re expecting to fly off the shelves.

 

These strategies can work, for sure, but if you’re serious about really upping the ante and ending 2016 in the best position possible, then it’s time to think about how you can leverage your best asset – your people.

 

Here, we’re going to share some practical hints and tips that you can start implementing right away.

 

Consider whether you need to roll out refresher training

 

 

At this time of the year, exemplary customer service can make a huge difference when it comes to your profits. Are your staff comfortable with talking about your products and services? Can they pinpoint opportunities to offer an up-sell? And are they really firing on all cylinders when it comes to their day-to-day work

Take the opportunity to consider how you can offer training to drill down on key points and take performance up to that next level. You don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on bringing in external providers. Think outside of the box when it comes to how you can deliver.

 

Ensure that individuals and teams have goals to be working towards

 

If your staff have been in their positions for a while, then they can really easily fall into a mundane routine. They turn up to work, do their bit and then go home. Could it be the case that they’re feeling complacent? If so, now’s an excellent time to get your leadership team together and ensure that everyone has realistic but stretching goals to be making progress towards.

 

Individuals should understand and recognize the contribution they make to the bigger picture, though it’s also sensible to think about how you can encourage staff to work together to achieve bigger things.

 

Work out how you’ll incentivize outstanding performance

 

 

Think that it’s enough to pay your staff the money you owe them at the end of the week, and then expect them to thank their lucky stars that they’re so generously rewarded for their work? Think again. Pay is only one part of the story here. You need to consider how you can make sure that your employees know that their contribution is valued.

 

Again, this doesn’t have to be something that puts a strain on your budget. There’s a ton of things that you can do to offer an attractive inventive for outstanding performance, even if you’re on a tight budget. And, of course, you should never underestimate the value of saying thank you.

 

The year’s speeding to an end, but if you start taking action right away on the points that we’ve outlined above, you can make a big difference to your final results. So what are you waiting for?

 

If you need some help with managing that final push, then pick up the phone. We’ll be looking forward to having an initial chat about how we might be able to work together, without any obligation or pressure.

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Should Employers Be Worried About Pokémon Go?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Should Employers Be Worried About Pokémon Go?

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the latest digital trend to be sweeping the world. Pokémon Go involves using your mobile device to locate and capture virtual creatures. It’s currently being used by more than 100 million users.

 

Some have praised the app for encouraging people to get outside and become more active, but it’s also had its fair share of criticism. Concerns have been expressed about the likelihood of players being involved in accidents while engrossed in the game. There have also been reports of trespassing, and even fights breaking out in the street.

 

Whether you’re an addicted player or a bit of a cynic, if you’re an employer then you have some serious considerations to make. Statistically speaking, it’s very likely that your staff are indulging in a little Pokémon Go in their spare time, and possibly even at the office. So what are you supposed to do about it?

 

Interestingly, Boeing was the first large company to ban the use of the app for employees during working hours. It was reported that it had been installed on more than 100 work devices. One employee was almost injured after being distracted by the game. The aerospace company didn’t mess around and Pokémon Go was added to their software blacklist.

 

There have also been concerns raised around security. The app allows users to take photographs of their ‘catches’, including a live shot of the location. These shots are often shared to social media networks by those eager to show off their latest achievements. If your staff are capturing images of your workplace, then this is a can of worms that you probably don’t want to open. Sensitive data and documentation could very easily be compromised.

 

But is an outright ban on the game really the best answer here? It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if your staff are chasing Pikachu when they should be working, you’re going to see a drop in productivity and profit. It’s not necessarily all doom and gloom, though. Playing the game could inject some fun and excitement into the working day. It could also encourage your staff to get away from their desks for a little while, which is often a positive thing.

 

Before you issue an outright ban on Pokémon Go in the workplace, think about the bigger picture. What are your existing social media policies? Do they cover the current issues? Do your policies need a refresh, to ensure that they’re still fit for purpose? What opportunities and threats are you facing, and how can you handle them without overreacting, while keeping business priorities in mind?

 

When it comes to people issues, there are often no right or wrong answers. What’s important is that you can keep a level head and act in your best strategic interests.

 

If one thing is for certain, it’s that challenges surrounding social media and the usage of mobile devices are only going to become more prevalent in the coming months and years. Make sure that you’re ready for them. Need help to navigate these issues, contact us today!

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How To Handle Hate In The Workplace

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How To Handle Hate In The Workplace

 

Most offices are a place of diversity- as they should be. In one workplace, there are employees of different sex, race, age, religion and more. While businesses may pride themselves on being diverse, so many differing perspectives on life can create friction when all of these people are in the same room and expected to work together.

At some point in their career, most people will encounter someone that they dislike or even hate. We spend a lot of time with the people we work with. As a result, office friction and tension can be a regular occurrence between employees. So what exactly do employers need to be aware of, and what are your responsibilities as we navigate our way through what’s to come? Read on for advice and guidance.

 

Take a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination and harassment

 

If you witness hateful incidents in your workplace, it’s your responsibility to take action. Leaders should never turn a blind eye to such situations. If you were to take this route, you’d be likely to find that everything very quickly escalated out of control.

Many of our clients employ diverse work-forces and enjoy the many benefits of doing so. It’s important that you have a plan in place when problems arise. Act fast, and in line with your existing people policies. Be firm, and lead by example. This is no time for waiting around or being ambiguous with your actions.

 

Contact the appropriate authorities where necessary

 

 

Some problems can be nipped in the budded immediately with some clear communication and a firm stand. Sometimes however, there are deeper issues as play, and things can very quickly spiral out of control. It may be the case that you need to involve the police.

This may seem like a big step to take, but it’s vital that you remember that you have a responsibility as an employer. The authorities will be able to give you advice on what to do next, and will be able to take any necessary steps to ensure that the situation is managed in accordance with the law.

 

Our advice for handling hatred in the workplace is short and to the point. Take action quickly, and take a stand against any such behavior.

 

If you suspect that your discrimination and harassment policies may be outdated or no longer fit for purpose, then now would be a great time to complete an audit of exactly where you are, and what challenges may be ahead. Not sure where to start? We can help. Give us a call today and we can arrange a no-obligation consultation.

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How Much Should You Pay For HR Services?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How Much Should You Pay For HR Services?

 

 

Are you at the stage in your business where you know you could use a little HR help, but you’re feeling unsure about the cost implications? You’re not alone. It’s an issue that many leaders have to tackle. It can feel like an absolute minefield when you’re trying to hunt down all the relevant information.

Don’t panic though, because we’re here to give you the help you really need. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through some things you need to know about investing in HR services to help you to take your business to the next level.

 

 

Focus on investment, not cost

 

 

If you’re purely thinking about HR as a cost, then you’re missing an important part of the bigger picture. In many cases, getting some professional help can prove to be one of the best investments that you ever make. You could cut costs, improve productivity and output, and ensure that you attract and hold on to the people who are really going to drive your business forward. The potential benefits are endless.

A good HR consultant will be more than happy to sit down with you and pinpoint the opportunities that exist within your business. They can also help determine what could potentially be achieved on a realistic level. Don’t be scared to ask plenty of questions.

 

Recognize that DIY could cost you a lot more

 

These days, you don’t have to look too far for advice and guidance when it comes to HR. In fact, a quick Google search will bring up masses of information. You can even find templates for creating your own people policies. This can be helpful, to a certain extent, but it’s vital that you question whether or not going down this route is really a good idea.

Get things wrong, and you could end up spending a whole lot more on fixing the problems that you’ve created. Working with a professional will ensure that you get things right from the start. This will bring much needed peace of mind.

 

Stop speculating and get the facts

 

Some business leaders wait longer than necessary to get the HR help they need purely because they’re worried about managing their budget. They assume that professional services may be out of their reach. So they continue to try to do things on their own for far too long.

 

The truth here is that how much you should expect to spend will vary depending on a range of factors. These factors include the exact nature of the help that you need. Instead of guessing, why not speak with a professional? We’re more than happy to have a no-obligation informal discussion with you about what you need, what your options are, and how much you should expect to pay.

 

Get in touch today, and we’ll book a suitable time that works with your schedule.

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Should Employers Ban Cake Culture?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Should Employers Ban Cake Culture?

 

Some of us are pretty familiar with so-called ‘cake culture’ in the workplace. Whether it’s to celebrate a birthday, a promotion, a retirement, or just the end of another week, there’s no shortage of baked goods to enjoy with a nice cup of coffee in the office. It’s a tradition that plenty of us enjoy, but have you stopped to think about the potential health implications?

 

Senior dentist Prof Nigel Hunt delivered a speech at an annual dinner for dentists, where he said:

Managers want to reward staff for their efforts, colleagues want to celebrate special occasions, and workers want to bring back a gift from their holidays. But for many people the workplace is now the primary site of their sugar intake and is contributing to the current obesity epidemic and poor oral health. Cake culture also poses difficulties for those who are trying their hardest to lose weight or become healthier - how many of us have begun such diets only to cave in to the temptation of the doughnuts, cookies or the triple chocolate biscuits?’

 

And many would agree with him. More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. [Read abstract Journal of American Medicine (JAMA). The implications for society are obvious, so perhaps it’s time for employers to consider the impact that growing waistlines could have on their businesses.

If your staff are overweight, they’re more likely to experience health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes. This could put a real strain on your operations.

 

But is it really your responsibility to encourage your workers to make a change?

 

Let’s be totally honest here – banning cake in the workplace is going to make you fairly unpopular, and it’s a step too far. There’s no reason why sugary treats can’t be enjoyed in moderation. You could argue that it’s absolutely not your job to police what your workers eat.

Still though, it’s sensible to recognize that the lines between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred. Employees are spending more and more time at work. If you want to get the most out of your staff, it’s worth thinking about how you can promote a healthier lifestyle.

Consider making other options available, such as fruit and veggies. Also, recognize that you have a responsibility to encourage your workers to make good choices.

 

In many cases, your employees will greatly appreciate you rolling out positive changes that allow them to put their well-being at the top of the agenda.

If you want to be a truly exemplary employer, then it could be time for you to consider taking a more proactive approach to promoting health and positive lifestyle choices. Maybe you’ve got some ideas about how you could do this, but you’re unsure about the finer details. If so, we can help. Give us a call today for a no-obligation talk about your plans.

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Dealing With A Debbie Downer In The Workplace

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Dealing With A Debbie Downer In The Workplace

 

If you’re the skeptical type, it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a whole host of reasons to feel negative right now. The future of the country is up in the air, the summer so far has been a bit of a washout and the papers are full of tales of unrest and uncertainty.

In the workplace, negativity can spread like wildfire. So how exactly should you approach the situation if you have one employee who’s bringing down the rest of your workforce? Here, we share practical hints and considerations.

 

Listen!

 

Sometimes, people simply need a sounding board for their frustrations and concerns. Burying your head in the sand and hoping that things will fix themselves is very rarely a sensible strategy. Instead of just paying lip service to the concept of having an open door policy, make sure that you live by it.

Get to know your staff. Work out what makes them tick. Unearth the real issues that are at play. This is what makes the difference between a manager and a leader.

 

Challenge negative thinking

 

 

There are external things going on that you and your business can have no control over. No one’s expecting you to solve all the problems in the world. However, if comments are being made about internal issues, you need to tackle them.

If they’re true, take the time to explain the reasoning behind why things are the way they are, and how employees can play a part in improving the situation. If false statements are being shared, speak up immediately and set the record straight. Sometimes, a bit of strong leadership is what’s needed to get things back on the right track.

 

Recognize the difference between a bit of negativity and serious mental health problems

 

Most of us are guilty of letting negative feelings take over now and again. Some might say that it’s all part of living in the modern world. However, as a leader, you have a responsibility to know the difference between this and mental health issues among your employees.

If you suspect that there are more serious problems at play, you have a responsibility to ensure that your staff are supported and given the professional assistance that they might need. In this situation, your first port of call should be to speak with an expert. Remember that discretion is key, and you absolutely must honor the confidentiality of your employees.

 

The feeling and mood in many workplaces go through peaks and valleys. It’s your job to make sure that your staff are motivated and productive. If you’re experiencing problems, it may be worthwhile to have a chat with us about your challenges. Get in touch today and we can book a call at a time that suits you.

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School’s Out For Summer

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, August 02, 2016

School’s Out For Summer

 

It’s that time of year where summer vacation is in full swing. All across the country, teachers have breathed a sigh of relief and have wound down for summer vacation. All while parents have been forced to consider how they’ll balance childcare responsibilities with their working lives.

The bottom line here is clear. When the kids are off school, either due to organized breaks throughout the academic year, or because of other factors, it can have a big impact on businesses. As an employer, it pays to take a proactive approach. Here, we share our advice and guidance for managing associated challenges effectively.

 

Harness a more flexible approach

 

Giving your staff more flexibility can help to ensure that an appropriate balance is struck. Consider whether you could offer your team members the opportunity to work from home, or slightly alter their hours during the summer.

When most people think of flexible working, they think of arrangements like the above, and it’s true that these can really help. Don’t be scared to get a little more creative though and think outside of the box. Many businesses have successfully offered term-time only contracts for employees who are balancing their careers with caring responsibilities.

 

Be prepared for an influx of time off requests

 

 

At this time of year, many of us are tempted by the prospect of booking a last-minute getaway. We all like a bit of sun and sand, but when your staff are planning a mass exodus, the situation can turn into a major headache. Remember that giving priority to staff with children could be discriminatory.

If you feel like you’re struggling to manage time off requests, it might be time to implement a more robust system. This can ensure that your processes are fair and equal, and that you’re fully prepared for the challenges that the summer period can bring.

 

 

Take the time to rethink your priorities

 

 

Many workplaces experience a bit of a lull during the summer months. Staff are away on vacation, they’re thinking about spending time with the kids, and you might find yourself slipping into the trap of letting the time just pass you by. Instead of going down this route, take the opportunity to get your leadership team together and focus on where you’re going.

What are your priorities for the second half of the year? What challenges do you need to overcome? What opportunities exist that you aren’t tapping into? A little planning can go a long way.

 

If the summer season is causing HR headaches in your business, seek out professional assistance. This is often exactly what you need to get things back on the right track, and stop small issues from escalating into something more serious.

 

Give us a call today, and we’ll get you booked in for a no-obligation chat.

 

 

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Top Tips To Share With Your Night-shift Workers

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Top Tips To Share With Your Night-shift Workers

 

If you work the night or evening shifts, you are not alone. According to research carried out by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, three million Americans work graveyard shifts and another four million work evening shifts.

Regardless of the industry that you operate in, it’s quite likely that there will come a time when you need your team to work night-shifts, even if it’s just temporarily. Perhaps your IT staff will have to install important updates outside of usual working hours. Maybe staff on your shop floor will be asked to change their shift patterns to stack the shelves in the run up to the holiday period.

The potential health and lifestyle implications are well documented and you have a responsibility to ensure that you’re giving your workforce the support they need. Let’s take a look at some valuable tips that could make all the difference to your staff when the times comes that they have to work unsociable hours.

 

Think carefully about the journey home

 

Most of us know what it’s like to feel exhausted after a long day and drive home almost on autopilot. After a night shift though, tiredness can become a serious problem that can quite quickly escalate into a potentially dangerous situation.

It makes sense to consider how you could help with provisions for getting home at the end of a night-shift. It might make good business sense to provide financial support for the cost of taxis or to share information about local public transport arrangements.

 

Create good sleep routines

 

Sleeping during the day can feel unnatural, so it’s important to get into a good routine if you want to enjoy quality rest. Blackout curtains can make a big difference, as well as avoiding using mobile phones before sleeping and ensuring that you aren’t exposed to too much daylight before trying to nod off. In other words, it can really help if night workers get straight to bed after their shift.

Of course, every individual is different. There will be a strong element of trial and error when it comes to finding the best pattern and routine. To support your staff though, be sure that you’re sharing guidance and positive suggestions.

 

Never underestimate the value of quality sleep

 

Many of us would agree that there’s no better feeling than crashing out in a comfortable bed, but it’s way too easy to underestimate just how important sleep really is. There’s a whole host of medical problems and conditions that have been linked to poor sleep patterns, including heart attacks and diabetes.

Be sure to promote the importance of sleep to your workers. If they’re struggling, do the right thing and suggest that they make an appointment with their GP to discuss their options.

There have been calls to give extra rights to staff working night-shifts, to help protect them from the physical, mental, and emotional strain of working such unsociable hours. Whether this is something that will happen remains to be seen. Right now, you need to focus on doing all you can to support your staff and ensure that you’re taking reasonable steps to protect their well being.

 

If you’re confused about your responsibilities, or you need to know more about the law when it comes to night shift, get in touch. We can help you to understand exactly what you need to know.

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Are You Riding The Silver Wave?

Tiffany Boyes - Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Are You Riding The Silver Wave?

 

New data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that over 10 million over-50s are now in employment. The potential reasons could include the fact that the state pension age has increased and we’re also living longer than we were just a couple of decades ago. The fact of the matter is that we have more older people in the workplace, and as employers, we have a duty to make sure that we’re supporting our staff and ensuring that diverse needs are being met.

So what exactly do you need to know about your responsibilities? And how can you tap into the opportunity that exists when it comes to harnessing the skills of the older generation? Here, we share some of our top tips for making sure that your business is riding the silver wave.

 

Don’t write off older staff when it comes to learning and development

 

There’s often the assumption that older people have one eye firmly on retirement, so there can be a tendency to neglect learning and development provisions, and keep the bigger opportunities for younger employees. This is potentially a form of discriminative and it’s also extremely short sighted.

Invest in your older workers and you could see many benefits. Be aware of the skills that they may be lacking. Focus on what you can do to ensure that they’re brought up to speed so they can continue to contribute to the bigger picture.

 

Consider reverse mentoring initiatives

 

Technology is often a stumbling block for older employees. They can sometimes lack confidence when it comes to getting a handle on the new systems and processes. This is obviously a generalization, though it’s well worth considering whether this could be the case within your business.

A fantastic option here is to create a reverse mentoring program. Younger staff, who tend to have less overall experience but more confidence with technology, could share their knowledge with their older colleagues. It’s easy to jump to the assumption that you need to fork out for formal training. It’s true that this is sometimes necessary, but there are many other options that can be just as effective.

 

Be aware of the needs of older workers

 

At every different life stage, there are things that employers need to be aware of when it comes to making sure that they’re supporting their staff and giving them a degree of flexibility to help them to meet their needs. One thing that you might want to consider for older staff is how you can support them when it comes to their caring responsibilities.

Many older workers will want to spend time with grandchildren, and taking this into account could keep them motivated and engaged. As a rule of thumb, offering flexibility, as long as you keep operational requirements in mind, can be great for morale and motivation.

Our workforces are becoming more diverse. This can be a wonderful thing for your business. But you do need to take the time to make sure that you’re fulfilling your responsibilities and doing all you can to keep your policies and practices fit for purpose.

 

If you want to ensure that you’re getting things right, get in touch. We can carry out a review of where you are and what changes may need to be made to keep your business thriving.

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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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