Twas the office night before Christmas…

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the office
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,
which is not really surprising as the very night before
was the office Christmas party and everyone’s heads were quite sore!

Off in Lapland they had partied as well.
And poor old Rudolph wasn’t feeling too well.
Did he not get the memo on the office policy
that you must turn up for work the next day filled with glee!

Nope his red nose was shining, from too much champagne.
And poor Vixon was blushing; she’d been on the copier again!
The head elf had bought the worst Secret Santa of all
So the PA was cross, shocked and appalled!

Then the big man appeared and said “this just will not do”.
Go grab some coffee we have much work to do!
So they all pulled together through the morning from hell.
Saying Don’t tell HR and all will be well!

And so a happy Christmas to all and all a good night

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very merry Christmas and happy New Year.

We’ll be back on 2nd January 2018…

 

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.

 

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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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

 

10 rules for hugging in the workplace

It’s Friday and the end of another working week.  So we thought it was time for a bit of Friday fun. Now we are not huggers at the HR Rev offices (but only in the workplace of course, we are not completely devoid of affection) but in today’s casual office environment, what happens if there comes a time when you want to hug a co-worker.

Most office etiquette experts say that generally, an arms-off policy is best. And yet, most admit that they too have been in a situation where they’ve either given, or received, an awkward co-worker hug.

I thought it was about time we had some hugging rules for the office, so here goes:

The hugging rules:

  1. Don’t hug those you supervise.  The caveats: You can hug a subordinate if your being supportive in a non-creepy way (major family or personal loss—sideways, kind of arm around the shoulder, you care about them hug); at a wedding and you are congratulating them; it’s a hug for a professional win (promotion, giant sale, big project completion, etc.) and it’s with a group, not alone in your office with the lights off; or, if you would feel comfortable with your spouse standing next you and watching that specific hug.
  2. Hug your external customers or clients when they initiate the hugging sequence. The caveats: Don’t hug if it is required to get business (that’s not hugging, that’s harassment). Don’t let the hug last more than a second or two, or it gets uncomfortable; and, don’t mention the hug afterwards, just plain wierd!
  3. Don’t hug the person in the office you’re having an affair with (No explanation needed!!).
  4. When you hug, hug for real.  Nothing worse than the “fake” hug! A fake hug is worse than a non-hug.
  5. Don’t whisper “you smell good” when hugging someone professionally. That’s creepy; in fact don’t whisper anything at all whilst hugging!
  6. Don’t close your eyes while hugging professionally.  That’s weird and a bit stalker-like.
  7. It’s all right to announce a hug is coming.  Some people will appreciate a “Hey! Come here I’m giving you a hug—it’s been a long time!
  8. It’s never all right to hug from behind.  (Definitely creepy!)
  9. Never hug in the toilet.  It makes for an awkward moment when other employees walk in and see that!!
  10. If you’re questioning whether it’s ok to hug someone professionally, well, that is your cue that it probably isn’t.

Ok so no policy needed, but do you have any office rules on PDAs, we’d love to hear them…

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A version of this article originally appeared on The Tim Sackett Project.

Handle your relationship at work with care

Love is most definitely in the air and there seems to be red hearts and teddy bears everywhere you turn, and today being the start of what is meant to be the most romantic weekend in the calendar, you might be feeling all warm and fuzzy.

Are your colleagues boasting of their plans for a romantic meal somewhere, maybe a weekend away or has someone just received a delivery of ruby red roses?  Well whatever is happening around you, has it ignited feelings towards a colleague that you have started to see in a more romantic light? If the answer is yes, read our little words of advice before you step onto the yellow brick road of love, as it might not lead to the emerald city of happiness!

Firstly keep it to yourselves and keep it away from the office. As tempting as it may be to just “happen” to make tea at the same time, share that secret joke or flirt and giggle whenever you can, others don’t want to be part of it.  It can make others feel very awkward and make you look unprofessional. Not only that, but if you are using making tea as an excuse to see each other, you are probably not being as productive at work as you should be!!

If you are trying to keep your liaison a secret, don’t assume your boss doesn’t know what you are up to, chances are they will and they won’t appreciate you disappearing every 5 minutes!

Don’t get sidetracked by flirty emails, remember you are at work to do just that.  Your work will suffer if you spend all your time on secret emails and it is a blatant misuse of company time and resources.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to receive the odd email that makes you smile from ear to ear, but send them before or after work. 

Sadly not all relationships work out, no matter how rosy they start and at the end of the day you  will more than likely have to work together.  Just remain professional and don’t bring your problems into the office.

And lastly a huge no-no is getting others involved to cover or lie for you, especially if your partner in crime is married, we’re not here to judge but these things always have a habit of getting out!

It could be the start of something wonderful for you and you end up as one of the 20% of marriages that met at work, which of course is a lovely happy ending.   We just want to make sure that you don’t end up without a job or relationship!

Lastly on a happier note…. Happy Valentines day for Sunday everyone!

HRREV Blogger

 

 

 

How to handle office romances…

February is considered the month of love and Sunday is Valentine’s Day, so 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 shows that more than a third of workers have dated a colleague at some point in their working lives.

Those individuals are in pretty good company as well, as just one power couple that met in the workplace is none other than Barack and Michelle Obama. Back in 1989, the pair met whilst they were spending time working at the same law firm in Chicago.

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 in the pipeline, you could be concerned about the impact that this could have on your team, or what might happen if things turn sour.

Although this year, Valentines Day is outside normal office hours, relationship issues can happen all year round so February is as good time as any to consider workplace best practice.  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 and most likely wouldn’t act as a deterrent anyway. 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 are inappropriate in the workplace.   Remember people are always watching and no one wants to see canoodling in the canteen, or have to navigate their way through a kissing couple just to get to the kettle.

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, every day 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. And 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 recognise 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 robust, 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.

But if you feel you need to ensure that you’re prepared for anything, outlining ground rules in your Company handbook is essential and HR Revolution can help, get in touch and talk to one of our HR Consultants today to see how we can help!

 

Stop the Nightmares!

 

I have been reading a lot lately on marketing and how best to interact with your audience. If anyone out there is also looking to expand their business you will know that it can be a minefield of try this and try that, run special offers, interact, be personal but the one I liked most was be real.

People like to feel that it is a real person writing blogs and posting tweets etc (and I can promise you, I am definitely real!) so I thought this week’s blog could be just that!

I came across this the other day, you may not think it is particularly HR related but looking at no’s 3, 8 and 10 it could be!

Did you know a quarter of Britons suffers a nightmare at least once a week, according to a survey and the top 10 most common nightmares are:

1. Losing a loved one
2. Being poor
3. Losing your job
4. Being chased
5. Falling from a great height
6. Your teeth falling out
7. Being attacked by a tarantula spider
8. Being naked at an important event
9. Being a child again
10. Kissing your boss

Now I know that I have very vivid dreams and they can sometimes effect my mood the next day and can make me more or less productive! Haven’t we all had “those” dreams, the ones that make you feel really awkward around certain people in the office…. haven’t we?? Tell me I’m not alone!!

Maybe work itself is influencing your sleep pattern and in turn causing a bit of a vicious cycle? If you go to sleep dreaming about how to get that dream job or are worried that you need to look for another job (clearly it is causing us nightmares), get in touch and see how one of our Rev.Me packages could help you, from a simple CV re-write to helping you launch a whole new you to the employment world, we have it sorted. Now all you have to worry about is that giant spider heading your way!

Until then, sweet dreams from the HR Blogger

Office Romance, Excitingly Good Fun or Recipe for Disaster!

February is the month of Love, yes it is all around, but is that a good thing when it’s in the office?

With around 15-20% of relationships starting at work, it is clearly going on! And couples that meet at work are most likely to end up getting married than relationships that start any other way, so it clearly is possible to get the work / life balance right.

Now I know lots of couples that met at work that have indeed gone on to live their happy ever after and I think it is because they really got to know each other and liked each other way before they probably even had any physical attraction. They would have had lots in common, I mean going out for a drink after work they would always have something in common to talk about wouldn’t they. But…I also know my fair share of couples who’s office romance ended in misery.

So what are the do’s and don’ts to make sure these fairy tale and/or nightmare relationships don’t upset the rest of the team?

Employers my advice to you:

Firstly is there something in your handbook that outlines company policy on internal relationships, if yes then tactfully apply the rules. If not then lay down some ground rules from the outset:

What goes on outside of work STAYS outside of work, don’t bring arguments into the office

No flirting especially in front of other staff it will only make them awkward

Public Displays of Affection are out of the question, they are to remain professional

No Secret liaison in store cupboard, their relationship MUST not affect their work and

Fornicating on the job is grounds for dismissal!

You might also want to point out some of the pitfalls that may lie ahead!

Other staff gossiping about them good and bad

What happens when (sorry if) it all goes wrong, they still have to work together

And if it really does start to affect their work or the work of others, what are the options for moving one of them? Whatever you do, don’t just dismiss the one that you think is less valuable to you as an employee the relationship has caused enough problems with a law suit as well!

And to those involved; my advice to you:

Keep it to yourselves and keep it away from the office. As tempting as it may be to just happen to make tea at the same time, share that secret joke, receive a constant stream of “you look great today” emails or flirt and giggle whenever you can… DON’T! Not all relationships work out, no matter how rosy they start and at the end of the day you both need your jobs.

Don’t get others to cover or lie for you, especially if your partner in crime is Married! These things always have a habit of getting out!

If things do start to get serious, consider yourselves whether it would be better for both your relation and your job if one of you were to move on before you are not given the choice

So if any of my advice works and you end up planning the biggest day of your life, just remember, I love a good wedding! I could be the Cilla of HR! for help and advise get in touch.