Overcoming the January productivity slump

The festive season is well underway and spirits are often high in the workplace. Everyone’s working towards shared goals, pulling together to make big things happen, and looking forward to the opportunity to take a little time out with friends and loved ones.

However, by the time the New Year comes, the general mood and feel has often shifted slightly. With only cold dark days, credit card bills and diets to look forward to, productivity in the workplace can come to a standstill. So how do you overcome the negative vibes…

 

Thank your employees for their hard work

Saying thank you is so simple and it’s something that you should be doing regularly, but it’s all too easy to overlook the basics in favour of developing complex strategies. Make sure your employees know that their contribution did not go unnoticed.

It’s funny how just two little words really can make someones day!

Get everyone together to set new goals

January can be a time when everyone settles back into their usual routines. The pressure might be lifted slightly, and whilst this can be a positive thing, it can also sometimes encourage complacency. Instead of letting this happen, make sure that you have a plan of action to guide you through the first quarter.

Call a team meeting, invite feedback and opinions, and ensure that everyone is fully up to speed and engaged with your new priorities. This will act as a timely reminder that it’s time to get back to business!

Lead by example and get your head in the game for 2017

You might be the boss, but that that doesn’t mean that you’re immune to the January blues! You should ensure that you celebrate your successes and take time to reflect on your achievements over the past 12 months, but it’s important that you also look at ways in which you can improve your skills and start the New Year with a bang.

Ask your staff to give you an open and honest assessment of how you’ve performed as a leader, and what you can do to support them better in the future. The best business owners are always considering how they can step up and lead by example.

Do you need some help with crafting your growth plans for 2017? We can make sure that you get the year off to a flying start. Give HR Revolution a call today to arrange an initial no-obligation consultation on +44 (0) 203 538 5311. We would love to hear from you!

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Keep your employees focused during the festive period…

Although Christmas is technically celebrated over three consecutive days, Christmas obsessed, festive loving individuals will always go out of their way to make Christmas a month long celebration. Now I am no Scrooge, but the business world doesn’t stop just because copious amounts of fairy lights go up and Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’ gets stuck on repeat. For this reason it is good to strive for a balance that reflects ‘being all for the Christmas celebrations’ whilst keeping your businesses productivity levels high.

How to integrate Christmas into your business without losing sight of ‘getting the job done’.

1. Start a Christmas committee; anyone who LOVES, LOVES, LOVES Christmas can get involved. The idea is to have an initial meeting surrounding the planning of Christmas activities and then allocate time throughout December to carry them out. When you allocate time to Christmas andthe celebrations from ‘worktime’ it will give those who love Christmas something to look forward to, making them less inclined to lose focus at the times where they shouldn’t. This could be secret Santa, decorating the office, planning the office Christmas party, organising a Christmas bake off/morning tea or encouraging ridiculous dress up themes.

2. Have a Christmas or end of year party away from the office and after hours; when you put on a paid for function, you will generally find that people are happy to attend in their personal time and it also means you’re not taking your employees away from their work. Parties during work hours are fine too, however be prepared for the best part of the day to be unproductive.

3. Set the pace; if your business is generally quiet this time of year, create proactive things for your teams to do/put in place to ensure they continue to keep busy (while you continue to pay them). This will keep the team focused on getting organised for the New Year which is integral if they are not dealing with their typical busy work load. These things could be anything from a spring clean, to getting your team to write their ‘to do list’s/plans’ for the following year. You could also use this time for training and development, to ensure all that training that you’ve been meaning to do actually gets done!

4. Set the expectations AND the right tone; try to avoid the condescending “keep focused emails” as they tend to make your team feel like you have no confidence in their commitment. Instead send THANK YOU emails! Say how much you appreciate their hard work this year and that would you love their help in making December productive, so you can finish the year with a bang! Reminding your team how much you value their dedication and commitment is a great way to ensure it continues throughout December.

5. Manage the festive spoilers; if someone is persistently late into work /coming back from a break or arriving at work hung-over or drunk, these behaviours need to be address separately and privately. No matter how well-meaning a group message might be, this is highly likely to disengage those who are doing the right thing. On the other hand, if it is not addressed, it can bring down the office productivity levels. Don’t be tempted to let these issues slide just because it’s Christmas… If you need to have these conversations, then you need to have them… promptly!

It is probably a good time to check your employee handbook to ensure you have relevant time keeping, alcohol and other related behavioural policies in place. Visit HR Revolution’s one stop document shop for all your policies and procedures www.hrrevolutionshop.co.uk

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An HR nightmare at the Christmas party

Today is the 1st December and the office party season is now well underway.  It’s a time for most employees to unwind, let their hair down and have a few drinks after working hard all year. While most parties pass without incident, people can sometimes let their hair down a little bit too much and indulge in actions and behaviours which cause distress to others and serious headaches for HR.

When you bring together an office full of people who only really know each other in a work capacity and give them loads of alcohol, the results can be unpredictable, but what should you do if one of your employees crosses the line at the office Christmas party?  We’ve put some possible scenarios together and how they should be handled by HR.

SCENARIO 1: Inappropriate advances

A drunk employee repeatedly tells a colleague how gorgeous they think they are and that they’d love to get to know them better. He/she does not report this, but it makes them feel very uncomfortable and they tell a colleague in confidence.

It seems like the employee doesn’t wish to make a scene at the party but is clearly uncomfortable with what has happened – this is highlighted by their need to express their concerns to another colleague. As a result, this should not be discussed during the party so as to no make them feel uncomfortable.  It is always better to wait until everyone is sober before broaching any kind of issue.

The next possible working day an informal meeting should be scheduled to find out what happened and whether it was a regular occurrence.  If, after exploring this, it was found it was a one-off event then I would ask if he/she wishes to take things further, in which case we would have to follow procedure for inappropriate behaviour towards a colleague, and if not, it would just be noted down on file.

Separate enquiries should be followed up with the employee concerned, asking them their recollection of the event and whether he/she feels that the approach they took was entirely appropriate. It would be best to remind them that relationships at work are not encouraged by the company and advise that there would be no further follow up, unless further complaints were received.

SCENARIO 2: Loose lips

A drunk employee lets slip that the boss is planning to make a number of redundancies in the coming weeks. This information is highly confidential but now a handful of people know.

I’m making the assumption here that it would be a Senior Manager releasing this kind of information, which would make the breach of confidentiality more extreme. I wouldn’t act on this information at the party but on the next possible working day it would be necessary to meet with the employee and establish what had happened a the party.

It may be necessary to conduct a full investigation with the individual to ascertain what was said and the reason this might be. It would be wise to speak with those employees that had been told about the redundancies and note their account of the events. At this point we would also ask how far the information had spread and look to gain general reactions. Unfortunately, such information could have a serious impact on employee morale and gossip often circulates quickly, so it is extremely important that it is dealt with quickly and with discretion.

If it can be proven that the employee let slip this information, then we would have to follow the disciplinary process with them, as they have breached their trust by divulging this information. The company itself should look into sending a company-wide email to alleviate any fears and ensure we communicate effectively with staff members. It may also be necessary to follow up on this email to ensure everyone understands and is on the same page.

SCENARIO 3: The fight

As the drink flows two party goers start to have a disagreement. Temperatures boil over and the two start pushing each other and squaring up. Blows are exchanged by both, before colleagues break it up.

Make sure the fight is broken up and both parties are put in separate taxis and sent home.

The next possible working day invite both employees to a disciplinary hearing, where they will receive a warning for bringing the company into disrepute and failing their roles as ambassadors of the company.

Unfortunately, when everyone has had a lot to drink, emotions run high and unresolved issues can turn into full-blown arguments.

Although employees are outside of work hours, they are still representing the company and should behave accordingly. As a result, it’s important to have procedures in place to deal with any conflict that may arise eg. a no tolerance policy towards violence within the workplace, which extends to any organised work event, and the procedure is exactly the same as the one that would arise should employees get in a fight in the office.

SCENARIO 4: Sex in the stationary cupboard

An employee is heading into the stationary cupboard to collect another case of red wine that has been stored there when they discover two colleagues having sex. Embarrassed, they both straighten their clothes and re-join the party. The person who discovered them goes back into the party and tells some colleagues about the hilarious discovery.

In this case, I would not address them at the party, although I may try to defuse the jokes that could arise from the person who discovered them telling other people, as this could result in bullying.

I would meet with both parties separately on the following work day to establish what had gone on and hold an investigation. We don’t encourage relationships within the workplace and it is certainly not appropriate to have sex at a work party. However, it would be necessary to understand exactly what happened and not just listen to gossip. Both parties should be dealt with in exactly the same manner and the person who discovered them in the cupboard would need to be interviewed to establish the facts.

I would also ask the person who discovered them whether they thought it appropriate to tell their colleagues and have a joke about the couple, as this could lead to further issues down the line.

If you want to discuss any of the issues above or need a bit of guidance, please do get in touch with HR Revolution, we’d be happy to help (0) 203 5385311 – www.hrrevolution.co.uk www.hrrevolutionshop.co.uk

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A version of this article first appeared on breatheHR

 

Your Christmas HR questions answered…

Can you believe that two weeks today will be the 1st of December.  Most people think of the Christmas period as a time to relax and enjoy the festivities and I’m sure the office party/lunch/dinner details will dominate office conversation.  But not for business owners and managers I fear, the Christmas period can come with a whole host of issues, so why not this year, plan ahead a little and keep the period problem free.

Read the following Q&As to get the important information you need to know for your business.

Do I have to organise a Christmas party or function for my employees?

There is no legal requirement for you to organise anything for your employees.  There are some wider issues to consider here though. Just because you’re not obliged to do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t. After all it is the season to be jolly and organising a get-together could be a great way to thank everyone for their contribution and show them that you really appreciate all that they do for the business.

Cost is always a key factor in thinking about Christmas parties, but you don’t always have to spend a fortune, keep a budget in mind and have a look at all options, there are plenty around.

Everyone wants to take time off, how can I manage this?

Getting this right all comes down to the finer details of your employment contracts. You must take the time to assess the precise terms and conditions that you’ve laid out regarding how holiday can be taken. Generally speaking, employees should know how to request time off, and how decisions will be made by the management team.

If you have certain busy periods, you may decide that you’ll only accept requests for time off between certain dates in exceptional circumstances. If you had a employee who was getting married, for example, then you may reconsider your stance.

Not all of my staff are Christian, what are the implications here?

Having a diverse workforce has a multitude of benefits. You do need to make sure though that you’re conscious of differing beliefs, and the issues that could be at play. Remember that Christmas is a national holiday in the UK, and it’s recognised among many religious groups (including the non-religious) as having a special status. If you have many employees from different religions, it may be worthwhile considering making arrangements to recognise other holidays that your employees may wish to celebrate.

This can seem like a minefield, but it’s very possible to devise an approach that will suit all needs. You may need some help though when it comes to understanding the relevance and important of various different holidays. As such, you might decide to hold a consultation exercise with your employees. Getting everyone involved in decisions that will have an impact on them will ensure that they’re accepted.

Should I give my employees a present?

I’m sure there is no employee in the world that would not gratefully a Christmas present! However there are a few things to consider.

First of all, make sure that everyone receives their gift. This includes anyone who may be away on maternity, paternity, or sick leave.  Also, think carefully about the nature of the gift, a bottle of wine may seem like a good idea, though not so much if you have members of staff who abstain from alcohol. Use your common sense, and get a professional’s opinion if you’re struggling with ideas.

If you need any help with updating your HR policies and procedures, get in touch with HR Revolution and will be happy to advise you or visit our HR document website www.hrrevolutionshop.co.uk, where you can download our ready to use templates and documents.

It’s worth taking a bit of time to do some planning, then you and your employees can have a very merry Christmas indeed.

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