Office parties – a word of ‘festive’ warning!

For HR departments and employment lawyers alike, it is as much a Christmas tradition as turkey and mince pies. Every December we bring out articles on the perils of holding an office Christmas party, so as not to disappoint here are this year’s top tips.
Venue
It’s worth thinking carefully about the venue for your Christmas party. Is it accessible to all? including those with a disability? Can people get home easily? Choosing a venue that might encourage people to ‘drink and drive’ is clearly not advisable. So consider whether you have good public transport links or ready access to taxis.
Invitation list
When compiling the invitations be as inclusive as possible, no one should feel left out. Remember to make an effort to invite those who are currently away from work, whether because of maternity leave, sickness or any other reason. If employees are encouraged to invite their partners along, allow for the reality of unmarried couples and same-sex relationships.
Party planning
Think how you can make the party appealing to all. Organising an event based solely around the consumption of large quantities of alcohol will no doubt please some of your employees, but it could well be a turn-off for others. In particular, be sensitive to the religious and other beliefs of your employees; make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic drink options and any food on the menu contains a vegetarian option.

Also be mindful of any guest speakers or entertainers you choose to use. There is a very well-known Employment Tribunal case circa 1996 that arose out of the booking of the ‘stand-up comedian’ Bernard Manning. You can probably guess what went wrong there!

Discussion topics
When a lot of alcohol has been consumed, people become less inhibited and more likely to say (or do) precisely what is on their mind. As a result, the risk of discrimination and harassment claims rears its ugly head. So make sure people understand that this is a work event and a level of professionalism is still required. Oh, and if you’re the boss, remember that alcohol and conversions about pay rises don’t mix!
The morning after
Make sure people understand whether they are required to be in work the day after the Christmas party. If they phone in sick, carefully consider whether it is genuine sickness or the result of over-indulgence. Then consider whether disciplinary action is required.
Policy revision?
You don’t need a policy specifically to cover your Christmas party, but it is worth considering whether your existing policies on conduct, harassment etc. are clear about what is expected of employees in this context. Take a look at HR Revolution’s Employee Handbook, it helps set out core Company expectations in terms of general conduct and includes all of your integral UK policies and employment legislation.
Lastly; enjoy, let your hair down and have fun!
Finally, and before we begin to sound too much like the equivalent of ‘Scrooge’, the Christmas party is a chance to come together, celebrate a successful year and thank your colleagues/employees for their efforts. It is also an opportunity to have fun. So having taken some sensible precautions, relax, unwind and enjoy yourself. You deserve it!
If you need any help or advice with any issues discussed above or updating any office policies all found in our comprehensive Employee handbook, why not get in touch HR Revolution and make sure your office Christmas passes without incident.

Give us a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

 

Hung parliament – what does it mean for HR and employment law?

We have a new government of sorts, after all the campaigning, the Conservative party didn’t get enough votes to form a majority government meaning they will be forming a minority government in alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party.

The main priority for the Government will be Brexit negotiations but the following points will be good to keep an eye out for:

  • There will be lots of attention to those working the in the “gig economy” and the introduction of legislation to make clear their worker/employed status.
  • There could be limited changes to National Insurance payments – they could rise but this has not be stated clearly yet.
  • It is likely there will be an increase in the personal tax allowance to £12.5k and £50k for higher tax payers.

Things for businesses to look out for

Brexit negotiations around the rights to work, both for UK and EU nationals and EU workers currently in the UK, should be kept under careful review for any developments.

With increased attention on the “gig economy”, it may result in the re-assessment of contracts between businesses and self-employed workers and will also require greater analysis of the status of an employee, worker or contractor.

If you need any HR advice give us a call, we are here to help +203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

 

The CIPD ‘good work’ Manifesto ahead of the general election

The CIPD want politicians to make employment central on the next government’s agenda.  They are urging whoever the next government is, to put ‘good work’ at the heart of its thinking to improve the economy and boost individual welfare and prosperity.

Its Manifesto for Work, released ahead of the general election on 8 June, calls for:

  • A pilot of revised Individual Learning Accounts, designed to encourage people to invest in their own lifelong learning, in collaboration with their employer.
  • A new voluntary target for 20% of FTSE 350 board-level executive directors to be women by 2020, as a stepping stone towards achieving equal gender representation on boards by 2030.
  • Legislation to allow workers on zero-hours contracts to request a minimum number of hours after 12 months of employment.
  • Voluntary human capital reporting standards to encourage more publicly listed companies to provide better information on how they invest in, lead and manage their workforce for the long term.
  • A Know Your Rights campaign, run by the government alongside employers, which would help inform people on the different types of employment status and their associated rights, to tackle the lack of knowledge about employment rights in an increasingly fragmented world of work.
  • Widening out the apprenticeship levy into a training levy to make it more flexible to employers’ skills development requirements.

CIPDs Chief Executive Peter Cheese said the next government must focus on improving trust in business. “The world of work and the notion of ‘good work’ must be at the heart of the next government’s thinking in order to improve trust in business, accelerate economic growth, and improve outcomes for Britain’s workforce,” he said.

“The key to building better businesses, and a better economy, is dealing with the longstanding challenges that have led us to a point where pay is stagnating, trust in business is declining, and there is falling investment in skills. We can only solve these challenges by investing in people through skills and training, reforming corporate governance to improve public trust, and increasing diversity in our workplaces.”

He hoped the measures would help Britain cope with the “challenges”, such as Brexit, coming over the horizon. “By investing in skills and lifelong learning, boosting diversity in the workplace, and ensuring that we enhance and protect the rights of employees, we can not only transform corporate cultures but also help build the high-skill economy needed to cope with the challenges we’re facing.  This election should be about the future of work, and it is vital that the next government puts the workplace at the heart of its agenda.”

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

A version of this article first appeared in HR Magazine.

When do a few drinks after work turn into a potential HR nightmare?

In a culture where regular heavy drinking and partying hard has become the norm, many of us are no strangers to tipple after work, a glass of wine or two with colleagues to put the working week and the world to rights or an informal brainstorming session over a few beers to bond away from the constraints and routine of being tied to a desk.

But as a business owner, you no doubt fully recognise that alcohol can turn into a serious problem in your workplace if it’s not carefully managed.

What would you do if an employee turned up for their shift looking worse for wear and constantly late?  What if rowdy behaviour in the pub brought your business into disrepute? and what exactly is the difference between your employee enjoying a couple of drinks, and your business being faced with a more serious problem?

What you really need to understand is…

You have legal obligations under The Health and Safety at work Act 1974, The Transport and Works Act 1992 and The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

You must have policies that ensure that issues are handled fairly and consistently and your managers should have sufficient training and capability to deal with workers who need help.

It would be well to note here that taking a hardline approach rarely serves anyone well. You probably don’t need us to tell you that dragging an employee with a serious problem into your office and giving them a telling off isn’t going to fix anything.

As a responsible employer, you’ve got a duty of care to make sure that you support your employees through difficult times… Which is a solid reason why many employers now view alcohol and drug problems as illnesses that need to be treated through rehabilitation practices.

Of course, drugs can be a different kettle of fish entirely, as they’re less socially acceptable, and can have a much more damaging impact on a person’s life than enjoying a few drinks with workmates now and again.

Remember too that if you have a team of managers, their role is important in all of this. Can they spot potential problems? Do they have the confidence and ability to tackle them? Do they know where to turn to for expert help if things start to escalate?

If you’re just reading this blog out of interest, and you don’t have an issue like this in your workplace at the moment, then that’s great.  However, you must recognise that you do need to be prepared, firefighting issues like this is always going to be difficult for everyone involved.

This is complex stuff, and you don’t have to manage it on your own.

Get in touch with HR Revolution +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk to arrange a no-obligation and confidential discussion around how we might be able to help you deal with alcohol and drug problems at work.

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

Do your colleagues like you as much as you think?

In all probability the answer to this is no! Very blunt I know, but I am just being honest with you.

In truth we all have bits about us that are completely unlikeable, but we just don’t want to believe it!

Take a look at the top reasons for being disliked in the workplace and ask yourself…  Is that me?

You gossip: and I mean the negative kind. What you don’t realise is that you are venting about someone to the very person they are best friends with. In short, neither of them like you now and they have told everyone else not to trust you!!

You lengthen meetings: with the most ridiculous questions, which in all probability have been answered already if you hadn’t been too busy doodling to notice, or just wanted to make your presence known. Now it’s past going home time you are very unpopular indeed!

You depend on everyone: for every single answer. You have google on your computer, it pretty much knows everything so use it and stop asking me!

You moan: OMG is your cup ever half full? Apparently not, it’s too cold, there are no teabags, you broke a nail, you hate Mondays, the stationery cupboard is too far away, don’t depress the office…

You tell white lies: It wasn’t your idea stop saying it was aaarrggghhh!

You know it all: about everything and you can do my job better than me!!! (even though you don’t know what you are talking about). Get over yourself your insecurity is boring!

You are lazy: and you know it. It’s never your responsibility, so why should you step up to take on extra duties? Well people might like you a bit more if you pulled your weight for one!

You are Little Miss Sunshine: really?! No-one can be that happy all of the time. The lift breaking down when you work on the 15th floor is NOT a good excuse for light exercise! I don’t want a group hug, high fives or to turn my frown upside down… so please go away.

You talk too much: and when I say too much I mean all the time! Now I don’t mind a quick catch up on last night’s TV, but seriously I have work to do and I really am not that interested in Aunt Maud’s bad back. Rein it in a bit hey!

You are always sick: I mean taking every Monday off is a bit suspect, do you really always have something dodgy to eat on a Sunday!?? I’m suspicious and I don’t really like you for it.

You smell: ok sensitive subject but it’s true no-one like to sit with someone who’s got BO or bad breath.

You suck up to your colleagues: all the time. Did you do your hair differently? I like your dress, is it new? Did you lose weight? It’s all rubbish, the boss looks the same as always and you are not getting a promotion.

So if you want to win favour in the office, take an interest in other people, listen to a story they want to share, give the odd compliment and maybe offer to buy the coffee or make one at least!

Even as I wrote this blog I couldn’t help thinking ‘actually I do a bit of all of those’, so I will sign off and go and spray myself with some perfume, make my team a coffee or tea and not moan when there is no milk! and tell my colleague that I did notice her hair cut and I like it!

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

Odd employee behaviour – what does it mean?

It’s very interesting how we interpret other people’s behaviour; often our perception can be skewed by how we are feeling ourselves or from a previous experience.

I was recently asked about an employee who had started to arrive late for work on a regular basis, and kept ‘popping out’ to take phone calls. At this point most of you are already thinking clearly looking for another job!. That was my colleague’s immediate thought, however, being quite an empathetic soul I also wondered if something had changed in their personal life; had a family member been taken ill? or other circumstances changed?

The point here really is how important it is to talk to your employees.  Say that odd behaviour is a result of covert calls to a Recruitment Consultant, how do you feel about the employee leaving? Are they a talent you want to keep in your business? This could be a wake-up call to address any issues that are making them feel dissatisfied or underappreciated.

Alternatively, they could be dealing with real difficulties within their personal life and it’s now impacting their ability to be fully focused on their role. I have seen many good, productive employees suddenly start to fall away from expected standards, and I’ve seen the massive impact a show of concern; a listening ear; a hand on the shoulder to say ‘we support you’ can have.

Most employers agree that these types of conversations are not always easy to have, but it doesn’t have to be a big production. Dependent on your relationship with the employee it can be a formal conversation in a meeting room or quick chat in the kitchen, or perhaps you have someone fairly senior within the business who is more at home talking to people on that level.

Always approach people with the benefit of the doubt, experience has shown you never know what kind of answer you’ll get in return. Start by telling them that you have noticed a change in their behaviour recently, what those changes are, and how it’s impacting their work or their colleagues.   Try to ascertain if there is anything troubling them at home or work and whether they would like to discuss the issue so that you can help them? It is imperative to be fully supportive.

If they are looking for another job, this could be the catalyst for an open conversation that needs to happen.  If they have already decided to leave, there may be little you can do to change their minds, so it’s important to remind them of what is expected whilst they are still an employee.

Whatever the outcome by talking to your employees you are creating a more positive, loyal productive workforce.

Sound daunting, then give HR Revolution a call we can give you the guidance you need to approach these situations.  +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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4 ways outsourced HR can help you save money…

Think that you can’t afford an HR consultant?  Think again…

We understand, you need a helping hand with some HR issues that are bubbling away under the surface, but wondering whether you can really spare the budget? Or whether you’d just be better off hoping for the best and carrying on as you are?

We know it can be scary to make that leap and bring in some HR help, however, the reality here is that we can often actually SAVE you money.

That has to be a great investment to make in your business.

Here are four ways in which we could save you money…

1. We can keep you out of tribunals

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re a fair employer who tries to do your best by your employees, that you are not at risk of having to face a tribunal. Not necessarily true.

Employment law is very complicated, and if you miss something, you could find yourself with a potentially very costly situation on your hands. We will make sure that your people practices are on the right side of the law.

2. We can increase the performance of your workforce

Imagine if you could double the output of your workforce overnight. Ok realistically, that’s probably not going to happen straight away, but we can dive deep into your business, pinpoint the exact issues that are at play, and create a step-by-step plan to fix them.

This can absolutely grow your productivity and make sure that your employees are firing on all cylinders. You might think that a big marketing budget, or some fancy social media tactics are what are going to give you the edge.  No the real breakthrough happens when you look INSIDE your business, rather than outside.

3. We can educate your managers

We don’t just come into your business, work some temporary magic, and then leave. We can give your managers the skills to ensure that they’re playing an active role in driving your business forward. This means less of a learning curve, less mistakes, and more strides forward.

Your employees are the most important investment that you can make, so it makes sense to nurture that investment. If you know that your managers have room for improvement, then stop blaming, take responsibility, and talk to someone who can help you to get things moving in the right direction.

5. We can provide a flexible service

Maybe you’re not quite at the stage where you cannot justify the cost of full-time, permanent HR help. That’s exactly where we can assist you. We don’t tie you into ridiculously long contracts you don’t need, and we can create scalable solutions that are perfect for your needs.

No ongoing retainers that don’t serve you. No off-the-shelf guidance. Just what you really need to move forward and solve your problems, right now. Our aim is to make you a better employer, not to bog you down in detail.  The best HR consultancy services can save you money, let HR Revolution take care of your HR needs so that you can take care of your business.

If you want to talk about how we can move forward together, get in touch today, help is only a phone call away +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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How to deal with a boss who is a psychopath…

I’m glad to say that at HR Revolution my boss is not a psychopath!! but apparently psychopathic bosses are alarmingly common, but not to worry as there are ways of dealing with them.

And at this moment in time this man is the absolute epitome… Last month Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, a turn of events that still have left many people reeling and for those still adamantly opposed to Trump’s ascendancy there’s yet another unpalatable fact they may not want to digest.

Oxford University research psychologist Kevin Dutton recently used a standard psychometric tool – the Psychopathic Personality Inventory – to rank former presidential candidates and a series of historical world figures based on eight psychopathic traits. Trump scored 171… two points higher than Adolf Hitler.

But Trump is in good company. Recent research by psychologists at Australia’s Bond University, conducted among 261 senior leaders working in US supply chain management, found that 21% demonstrated clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits. This figure compares with around just 1% of the wider population.

Many in HR may not find this that surprising. The higher prevalence of destructive, ruthless and risk-taking behaviours among leaders has been well-documented over the years, not least in relation to the financial crisis. And managing such behaviours is something a fair few HR Directors will be no stranger to.

More surprising, perhaps, will be the claim from some that psychopathic qualities are not always inherently a bad thing. Being a CEO requires ambition, tenacity, determination, risk-taking and having a positive view of yourself and your abilities, which are “all more natural if you have psychopathic wiring, or else self-doubt gets in the way”.

While psychopathic CEOs will not be appropriate for all environments – and can cause a lot of damage – they may be right for some, she adds. These include fast-moving, high-risk commercial cultures such as financial services or organisations that require someone to take them through a major restructure.

But in more stable people-centric operations such individuals are likely to wreak havoc. A senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University’s business school, explains: “People with psychopathic traits are generally very charismatic and have lots of energy, vision and confidence, but there’s a piece missing for them, and that piece is empathy. You could almost feel sorry for them as it’s just how their brain functions – apart from the fact they leave a trail of destruction behind them.”

The upshot is that the business is likely to start haemorrhaging talent, particularly at the senior manager level as they will be directly affected by the CEO’s inability to relate effectively to others.

If you’ve got toxicity at senior levels it makes it more challenging to have a positive culture as that kind of behaviour reverberates around the organisation. People often unite against the toxic executive, but it can cause quite large ripple effects and is a huge distraction.

One possible way of minimising the impact is to create a strong team around the boss, not least to deal with people issues and put out fires.  If you frame it in such a way that it’ll make the CEO’s life easier, for example ‘they’ll take over the stuff you can’t be bothered with so you can focus on the things you love doing’, the CEO will almost certainly sign up to anything.

But the real danger comes if such leaders are surrounded by ‘yes men’ that cannot or do not challenge them.  It might sound scary but it boils down to how you present difficult issues and, just as importantly, possible solutions.

People are afraid to tell CEOs the bad stuff because they’re scared of the repercussions, but some people are simply not aware of how they come across. So if you point out ‘this is what you’re doing and this is the impact’ it can make a big difference.”

While bosses who are true psychopaths will not care if their behaviour is having negative repercussions on others, being clear about the negative consequences in business performance terms will make a difference because it reflects on them and taps into their likely narcissism.

Psychopaths hate drawn-out processes so if they decide they want to fire people, make sure that they are made aware that people aspects won’t go away and they’ll lead to legal issues, which will cause a lot of hassle; so you need to follow the rules’.

As with any boss, the most successful way of handling such individuals is to think about what they need from you – which will not be how you feel about x or how well you have collaborated on y. Instead it will be about talking the language of results, facts and deliverables and spelling out in clear business terms the prizes that are to be gained or the pain that will be suffered if a given action is taken.

However maybe the days of the psychopathic boss are numbered, not least because millennials may increasingly refuse to put up with such behaviour.  If they don’t like a situation they’ll just move on and then we’ll see companies having to explain what they are doing about it.

Need any advice handling on a toxic employee, give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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A version of this article first appeared in HR Magazine.

Happy Valentines… the do’s and don’ts of office romance…

Today is the 14th February, ring any bells?  Of course, it’s Valentines, the day where love is all around us – well commercially anyway!! and yes I’m sure I will be inundated with cards, chocolates and flowers, well I can dream!!

However, is it ever a good thing when it’s in the office?

Clearly given the amount of time we spend at work, it is no surprise that things happen.. 51% of working professionals have participated in some kind of workplace relationship, with 10% meeting their spouse at work.

So what are the do’s and don’ts of relationships that don’t upset the rest of the team or end in your unemployment?

If he or she is married, don’t embark on a relationship, exciting it maybe, but you don’t want to run the risk of wife/husband turning up at the office looking for answers, remember when families etc are involved there will be far reaching consequences.

Emails – I would think very carefully before sending anything incriminating, all it takes is to hit the wrong key and the whole company will know about your oh so “secret” relationship! Also, remember it is likely that your company can access your emails anyway, so always think with your head.

PDA’s or public displays of affection, your colleagues won’t want to witness this, especially after lunch!! you must remember to remain professional at all times, and as for sex in the workplace, this could be grounds for instant dismissal so best save the passion for after hours.

Don’t be a blatant flirt, discretion is the key, a stolen glance is more enticing that draping yourself over someone’s desk and remember people are always watching.  So to avoid malicious comments keep your appearance in check, keep your look professional.

If things do start to get serious, consider whether it would be better for both your relationship or your job if one of you were to move on before you are not given the choice or it begins to interfere with the office equilibrium.  Also, consider the worse case scenario, what happens if it all goes wrong, you still need to act professionally and work in the same office, so no uncontrollable crying or planning a Lorena Bobbit style revenge, make sure that you have someone to talk it through with after work, friends or family being a good start.

How you handle things as an employer can also have a big impact.  So creating clear, legal and ethical policies will guide your employees and help develop the running of a harmonious workplace.  Let employees know that you expect office romances or relationships etc. to be kept separate from the work environment and don’t be afraid to spell out the consequences of any “romantic” relationship that is negatively impacting on your business or workplace.

If you would like to discuss any potential issues, give HR Revolution a call for a confidential chat and ensure that no situation ever turns into an HR disaster.   +44 203 538 5311 or email info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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Should you let your employees work from home?

Did you know according to recent research, more than half of employees feel trapped by the rigid structure of their workplace. A whopping 74% said that they wanted more freedom and flexibility, so it’s no real surprise that homeworking is a trend that’s here to stay and that many forward thinking employers are taking it into consideration.

Homeworking provisions vary between businesses, but the main principle is that you let your employees carry out their tasks from the comfort of their own space. Being anything from once or twice a week, to maybe a more permanent solution.

It’s an approach that’s likely to be welcomed by those with caring responsibilities, and let’s be honest here… Probably everyone else, too. After all, no one enjoys doing the daily commute, or being stuck in the confines an office all day long.

As a business owner though, you’re likely to have a few concerns. Could it really work? Will it provide your employees with the temptation to find something else to do? Or is actually a wonderful way to give your employees what they really desire, utilise the benefits of modern technology, and strengthen your reputation as a desirable employer who people want to work for?

There’s no denying there is a lot to consider, if you’re to get it right.

You need to think about how you’ll make sure that team members are in communication, and they all understand their responsibilities and how they fit into the bigger picture. In some cases, you’ll also have to look at how you can ensure that everyone has the equipment they need.

Also homeworking won’t be right for everyone. Some of your employees will crave face-to-face contact, and will be able to imagine nothing worse than just staring at the same four walls all day, with only their dog for conversation.

But it’s 2017 now, and you need to move with the times. Fail to give your employees what they really crave, and they WILL start to look elsewhere… regardless of how much they might enjoy their work.

The concept of a job for life is over, and you have to work hard to win loyalty.

If you’re not looking at ways to bring more flexibility into your business, then you’re seriously missing a trick and we know it can be a difficult shift to manage, but get it right, and it could work some real magic with your employees.

If you need any advice with planning your approach, get in touch with HR Revolution today and see how we can help +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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