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.

 

Plan ahead for the January productivity slump

So December is only a couple of weeks away and around this time of year spirits are generally high with everyone looking forward to the opportunity to take a little time out with friends and loved ones.

However, by the New Year the general mood and feel has often shifted slightly. With nothing but rainy dark days and credit card bills to look forward to, productivity in the workplace can come to a grinding halt. Here are our best tips for overcoming the January slump!

Give thanks…

It’s likely that your employees may have worked longer shifts over the Christmas period. They’ll have dealt with stressful situations and difficult discussions, and it’s understandable if they’re feeling a bit burnt out. Some might even be asking themselves what the point in all of it even was.

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 didn’t go unnoticed.

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 new priorities. This will act as a timely reminder that it’s time to get back to business!

Get ahead in 2018…

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 employees 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.

If you need any help, why not let HR Revolution give you the HR solutions you need to get 2018 off to a flying start…

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.

 

How to manage gender reassignment in the workplace – Part 2

In yesterday’s blog we talked about discrimination in the workplace, today we discuss disclosing gender identities.

The job applicant: A ‘transsexual’ person is not required to tell a prospective employer they have changed gender when they apply for a job, it should always be up to them to decide whether to disclose or talk about their gender identity – for fear being misunderstood and/or treated unfairly.

The employee: A person who is starting (or intending) to go through gender reassignment will in practice have no choice but to tell their employer.  The employee will then agree with the employer what information can be shared with whom and when.

Other general rules: Employers and colleagues must not ‘out’ an employee or applicant as trans as they could breach laws. Also, apart from in certain circumstances, it is a criminal offence to reveal, without the person’s permission, that they hold a gender recognition certificate or have applied for one.

If an employee or applicant who is trans decides that some information can be shared, the employer should, without pressuring the employee, talk to them about:

  • What they do and don’t want their colleagues to know
  • Who will be told, who will do the telling, where, when and how, and
  • Whether the employee will be there.

It is advisable that communication of any information to be shared is noted and recorded, and happens before the employee changes their appearance.

Employees disclosing their trans identity to a supportive employer can feel more comfortable at work, with a likely improvement in their morale and productivity, too.

Depending on the employee’s role, it may be beneficial to discuss and agree whether some limited information about their trans identity or gender reassignment should be communicated to clients and customers the employee regularly deals with.

These processes are always best supported by HR and it may be advisable to outsource your projects where possible. HR Revolution can carry out any project to ensure the process is performed unbiasedly.

Look out for Part 3 of the blog tomorrow.

If you need further information or guidance, give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@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.

 

How to manage gender reassignment in the workplace – Part 1

The Equality Act 2010 says that you must not be discriminated against because you are transsexual – that is, your gender identity differs from the gender assigned to you at birth.  In the Equality Act it is known as gender reassignment. All transsexual people share the common characteristic of gender reassignment.

Employers, managers and colleagues should be aware that no two gender reassignment situations or two ‘trans’ identities are likely to be exactly the same.  If an employee feels they have been discriminated against, they will be able to bring a claim to an Employment tribunal.

We have put together a three part blog that highlight where you need to be more vigilant when it comes to gender reassignment discrimination in the workplace.

Recruitment

Job advert/job description – These documents can be difficult to write at the best of times; try to ensure they are clear on exactly what is needed for the post.

Advertising – You should consider more than one type of media or advertising platform to avoid ending up with too narrow an audience.

Personal information – Make sure any information you request is relevant to the recruitment process.

Interview – When you meet an applicant, do not assume someone’s gender by their appearance.

References – When contacting a previous employer for a reference always ensure you have the employees consent and be careful to use the correct name and title.

Equality monitoring form – You do not have to track how many job applications you receive from different groups of people, or the characteristics of the people working for you. However, if you do collect personal information (e.g. ethnicity, gender, faith, sexuality) about job applicants or an employee, you must protect their data. You must not discriminate against a candidate based on their personal information.

Pay, terms and conditions of employment

It is important to ensure there are no terms and conditions or contractual benefits that disadvantage or exclude someone based on their gender or gender reassignment.

Promotion

In promotion opportunities, discrimination can be:

  • Turning down applications from anyone because they are proposing to reassign their gender
  • Discourage an employee from applying because they have or are reassigning their gender
  • Not promoting an employee who is the best person for the job based on gender reassignment.

As an employer you have a duty to assess someone’s promotion based on their ability and performance. It is advisable to have a well-structured process for promotions and link these to performance reviews where possible to eliminate the risk of discrimination.

Training

An employer should ensure training opportunities are equally accessible for employees who propose to go through, are going through or have gone through gender reassignment. You should also ensure that you do not withhold training due to those reasons as it could be discriminatory.

Dismissal

It is unlawful for an employer to dismiss an employee because of their gender reassignment, perceived gender reassignment or association with someone else’s gender reassignment.

Redundancy

An employee must not be at a disadvantage or discriminated against in a redundancy process because of their gender reassignment, perceived gender reassignment or association with someone else’s gender reassignment.

When going through redundancy consultations any employees absent because of gender reassignment should still be consulted with.

These processes are always best supported by HR and it may be advisable to outsource your projects including redundancy where possible. HR Revolution can carry out any project to ensure the process is performed unbiasedly.

Look out for Part 2 of the blog tomorrow.

If you need further information or guidance, give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@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.

 

 

How to manage stress in the workplace

Stress is a very real problem in the workplace and so it is really important that businesses have a genuine and supportive culture, not just policies that are applied inconsistently by different managers.

Losing a valued member of staff as a result of Stress, is expensive not only in terms of absence but potentially in any discrimination claim they could bring if it is found an employer has contributed to their condition.

Below are five tips for employers and businesses on how to ensure a culture that guards against workplace stress:

Communicate – Employers should have open lines of communication with all employees, making them feel valued and involved in their company.

Consult on change – Employers should inform and consult employees on changes that are likely to affect them before they take place and encourage them to ask questions, before, during and after any changes so that they feel involved in the process, making sure that their opinions are valued ad respected.

Manage Absence – Make sure you are dealing with employee absences appropriately, helping people return to work with the appropriate health services, such as, occupational health and return to work interviews.

Offer Help – Employee assistance programmes should be made available, for example confidential or in person counselling.

Lead by Example  Employers should lead by example and actively promote healthy lifestyle themselves by having a good work/life balance, managing working hours, using full holiday allowance and taking lunch breaks.

Stress is a tricky subject to handle, so if you are unsure we are here to help. For further advice or assistance relating to Stress Management or Stress in the workplace, please contact HR Revolution on +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

We are friendly expert HR professionals who can help you resolve any issues whilst supporting your employees and minimising any risk to your business.

 

 

How to identify stress in the workplace…

What is stress?… the definition provided by the Healthy and Safety Executive (HSE) is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed on them”.

As most people are aware stress is not a new problem, but it is something that employers now need to treat very seriously.

For employers the impact of stress is a very real problem.  Not only does it effect an employee’s health, morale, productivity, performance and attendance it can affect business productivity, employee turnover and reputation.

There is also a marked difference between stress and pressure.  In most jobs there is an element of pressure, but this can make employees feel challenged and motivated which can have a positive effect on performance.  Stress however, can cause a detrimental effect to employee’s mental and physical health and well-being.

According the the HSE there are six main causes of stress in the workplace:

  1. Demands – Employees may be unable to cope with the demands of their job, feel overwhelmed with work pattern, workload or environment.
  2. Control – Employees may feel stressed if they feel they are not in control about how they carry out their work, this can lead to them under-performing and feelings of isolation.
  3. Support – Employees can feel stressed if they are not being supported in the workplace by managers or colleagues.
  4. Relationships – If relationships within the workplace are causing stress, this can lead to allegations of bullying, harassment and bad team dynamics, and can lead to employee grievances being raised.
  5. Role – Employees can experience stress if they don’t understand what is expected of them in their role and responsibilities.
  6. Change – Managing change can be very stressful for employees, causing them to worry about how change will effect them.

As an employer it is always good to be vigilant as it is not just the workplace that causes stress.  In many instances personal issues such as relationships, family bereavement, illness and money can have an impact on a employees health.

Spotting signs of stress is key.  You may notice a change in an employee’s behaviour, habit or routine, for example smoking or drinking more, taking more time off or making uncharacteristic mistakes.

If you feel that you have an employee that is suffering with any of the indicators above and don’t know how to handle it, please get int touch with us at HR Revolution +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk, we can help you navigate any issues and make sure that your employee feels fully supported.

 

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

Top 10 causes of stress at work

In this day and age we often hear a lot about workplace stress and sadly it’s symptomatic of society’s drive for constant growth and increased wealth, the outcome of which is ever increasing pressure on companies and employees alike.

Listed below are the 10 most common causes of stress in the workplace:

  1. Being given too much work
  2. Unrealistic deadlines
  3. Not being paid enough for the hours worked/duties performed
  4. Work-life balance
  5. Fear of missing targets
  6. Expected to work more hours than contracted too
  7. Poor working relationships
  8. Bullying or harassment
  9. Fear of redundancy
  10. Lack of control over work activities

So how can you deal with it? Well, start by showing signs that you really care.

Speak to your employees: try to get them talking in a relaxed setting outside the office and show real concern for their welfare.

Make small changes to help them out – it will foster a sense of trust that you may be willing to listen when there is a larger problem. While still challenging them, be careful to keep goals realistic.

Encourage an atmosphere where employees can tell their peers about things that aren’t working or make suggestions for improvements (keep it anonymous if necessary). Make sure the good ideas get acted upon or problems dealt with – very publicly – so that everyone knows you respect the process. This will build confidence that you take their views seriously, and if something can’t be solved, make sure you explain why.

Remember that employees can be stretched more when they feel listened to and respected as people.  They will work harder for you, and it will benefit you, your employees and the company.

 

If you have any issues with stress in the workplace, give HR Revolution a call +203 531 5388 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk, we are here to help.

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

10 bizarre notes left in office fridges…

Have you ever been really looking forward to your lunch, carefully packed the night before, only to go to your office fridge and discover someone else had already helped themselves to it?

Who on earth would do such a thing?  Well, apparently it turns out quite a lot of us would! and don’t get me started on the office kitchen sink being full of crockery or the bin, full to the brim.

A recent survey, conducted by Security experts ADT, found that significant numbers of office workers have had their lunches and office cutlery stolen.

31% of workers have been left with boiling blood – as opposed to boiling tea – after reporting their favourite work mug had been stolen.

Whilst 29% have been left heartbroken and hungry, on discovering that their lunch had been snatched from the office fridge and the survey concluded that these lunch-hour Artful Dodgers are usually men.

As collated by The Telegraph, here are ten of the funniest passive-aggressive lunch-notes that are sure to put a smile on your face.

1. Dear Fridge Thief, please chop your hands off to save me the trouble. #leavemyfruitalone

2. Good Morning! To whomever has been enjoying my coffee creamer all week… Surprise! You’ve been drinking my breast milk. Hope you’ve enjoyed. Cheers! P.S. It’s organic, so no worries.

3. Whoever stole my sandwich – you are lowlife scum and deserve a swift kick in the pants.

4. (The SAW themed note) To whomever is stealing food from the fridge, Let’s play a game. I have placed a few meals in the fridge for you. They are loaded with laxatives. I am not telling you what they are. If you eat your own food, you will be fine. If you eat what is not yours, you may be in for an unpleasant day. Have fun.

5. Harry Potter and the Refrigerator of Fear

Enter, stranger, but take heed

Of what awaits the sin of greed

For those who take, but do not earn

Must pay most dearly in their turn

So, if you seek beneath our floors

A treasure that was never yours

Thief, you have been warned, beware

Of finding more than treasure there.

6. To whoever steals drinks when they’re on top of the fridge. Not cool, dude. Not cool. (Must be a hipster – he stole drinks before they were cool.)

7. STOP eating my soup! I’m watching you. I mixed a little OxyPowder in my soup today. Care to find out what that is. Try a bit…. (note: Oxy Powder is a form of laxative).

8. Nothing in this box is worth dying for…..

9. A Poem: Sugar is sweet, Sugar is great. I hope your teeth fall out. Much Love. P.S. Seriously, I hope your teeth fall out or you get a mouth full of bad karma or cavities. This betrayal is as bitter as the unsugared coffee I had to drink this morning.

10. To the ignorant person who stole my lunch between yesterday and today: I just wanted to let you know that I have strep throat and you’ll notice that I had partially eaten the food.

Don’t be surprised if you get sick. I’m sure the visit to the doctor will cost more than you would have paid if you bought your lunch as opposed to stealing someone else’s. Also, since you’re such a genius, I just wanted to remind you that what you did is stealing and it would be a shame that you’d lose your job for being a thief. On second thought, it wouldn’t be a shame it would be great.

Have you any office fridge horror stories?, we’d love to hear them, let us know by commenting below.

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

 

The French win “The right to disconnect” for employees

On the 1st January, France’s new law “right to disconnect” came into effect.  This law is for any company with over 50 employees to initiate “switching off” from email, smartphones and any other electronic medium once their working day has ended.

Employers have a duty to regulate the use of emails to ensure employees get a break from the office.  However, if employers and employees can’t come to an agreement on the new rule, companies must publish a charter that explicitly defines their rights in regards to out of hours communications.

France’s Ministry of Labour was quoted “These measures are designed to ensure respect for rest periods and balance between work and family and personal life”.

Concern has been building for a while in France as recent studies found that approximately 3.2 million French workers are at risk of “burning out,” defined as a combination of physical exhaustion and emotional anxiety.  Also a study published by French research group Eleas showed that more than a third of French workers used their devices to do work out-of-hours every day. About 60 percent of workers were in favor of regulation to clarify their rights.

Although France is known for its “official” 35-hour workweek, for many companies it’s in name only. Many French employees continue working remotely long after they leave for the day. In fact, now that France has a record-high unemployment rate of nearly 11 percent, the 35-hour work week law has been called into question.

The “right to disconnect” law was part of a larger set of labour laws introduced in France last spring. The set was designed to combat some of the unintended negative consequences of the 35-hour workweek. One proposal, would give companies the right to renegotiate longer hours and to pay less in overtime to employees who stay longer. Another proposal would make it easier for firms to hire and fire employees. The “right to disconnect” legislation was the only one of the proposed laws that did not generate widespread protests and strikes in France.

France is actually not the first nation to enact such a law. In 2014, Germany’s labour ministry passed legislation banning managers from calling or emailing their staff outside of work hours except in an emergency. Nevertheless the law prompted several German companies to reduce the burden of overwork. Car manufacturer Volkswagen blocked all emails to employees’ Blackberries after-hours, while competitor Daimler said it would delete emails received by employees while they are on holiday.

Laws such as the one in France will certainly encourage better dialogue about effective work/life balance.  If companies can no longer dump as much work as possible on their employees regardless of working hours, they will hopefully make a concerted effort to define their expectations, what’s truly important, and how employees can contribute in the manner that’s in the best interest of their own health and the health of the company.  However, will this cause France to lose ground in the competitive global marketplace because its employees are working less than those in nations without such a law?  Many multinational companies already take a dim view of French business regulations.

Although, the “right to disconnect” law is unlikely to be introduced for UK workers, employers should not ignore the issues that can arise from excessive use of digital devices and establish boundaries that protect employees, encouraging all employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle and promote work/life balance.

If you need advice on any HR issues, give us a call at HR Revolution  +44 203 538 5311 or email info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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