Halloween in the workplace

Next Monday is Halloween and here in the UK, celebrations around 31st October are a fairly new phenomenon, but gone are the days when we used to bob for apples and perhaps make a poorly crafted costume out of a discarded bed sheet. Halloween is now a big money making business.

There are definite business benefits to Halloween, injecting a little fun and joviality into the workplace, team building and stress reduction to name a few.  But, there are a few things for employer’s to keep in mind.

Make sure if you have a fancy dress theme that your employees know what is and isn’t acceptable. Fancy dress has the scope to offend some groups. For example costumes that stereotype someone with a mental health issue or from a particular religion on nationality, could lead to a discrimination claim.

Also, what employees post on social media. Make sure that you have a good social media policy in place to make it clear that any inappropriate use of the internet could result in disciplinary action if it brings the company’s reputation into disrepute.

Your employees are adults,  but just because it’s Halloween, it doesn’t mean that normal standards should slide and inappropriate behaviour should never be dismissed as ‘just a bit of fun’.

So let your employees enter into the spirit of the season if you wish to do so and remember that it’s only a few months until you face a whole new set of challenges in the shape of Christmas!!

Next month, we’ll be exploring the issues surrounding the festivities, and your responsibilities as an employer. Be sure to sign up for our updates so you get all the guidance that you need, delivered directly to your inbox.

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How leaving work on time has changed my life… for the better!!

I’m going to take you back a few years; I’m working in London trying to forge myself a career in a very male dominated industry and I thought part of this was to be seen as completely dedicated, hardworking and for my sins, work all hours just to prove it!  I did ok, I felt like a trooper and it made me feel important… “I can’t possibly leave, I’ve got so much on”, but in reality it didn’t help my cause… my boss always left early so never saw it anyway!!!  That didn’t matter though, I thought others did and I didn’t really have any commitments outside work so what was the harm.

Well fast forward a few years and here I am, a working mum that DOES have commitments

Lessons I’ve learned on how I can do it all:

Lesson No.1 – I can get more done in a day

Seriously how much time did I waste, well, doing nothing obviously! It’s about good time management and being focused, I had to stop I’ll just make a quick coffee and then get started mentality and just crack on.  Did I really need to stop and chat with Sue in accounts about Saturday night viewing (ok well maybe I did, but I could have stuck to Strictly instead of moving on to X Factor too!) a quick hello would do just fine.  Once I was focused and generally more strict with myself about knuckling down, I found that by home time I had got everything done and actually felt much more productive than ever before.

Lesson No. 2 – Things can wait

As I said above, I had got everything done that I needed to and there are some things that really can wait until the morning. What I had done previously was action emails my boss had written in the subject, one for the morning, thinking oh I’ll just do it now quickly… or what would actually happen was I would half start it, then have to start over again in the morning anyway!! So if it says, not urgent or one for tomorrow, that is exactly what it is and it CAN wait… having a decent work-life balance can’t.

Lesson No.3 – No one will tell me to go home

If the boss is still working, they are not going to tell me to go home and for a number of reasons: a) they might not have noticed the time as they are working too b) they expect me to manage my own timekeeping and c) why would they if I am still working off the clock!?!?! But I needed to remember, I have been working harder and more efficiently because I have to leave on time, people are depending on me to be elsewhere!

The biggest part of this lesson is though… I never got brownie points for staying late, so I won’t get overlooked because I’m leaving when I should, especially as I am achieving more anyway!! My conscience is clear, my work is done and it is ok to leave, I do not need permission.

Lesson No. 4 – I have a life and it doesn’t start at 9.30pm!

Ok, I still have to do a different kind of work when I leave the office, but it involves doing it with the very people that I work for in the first place, my family!

Of course there are times I work a little late, there has to be, things do come up, but equally my boss understands that I can’t start a meeting at 5.00pm. There is always room to be a bit flexible but staying late is a rarity now and not the norm.  If I can work smart and leave happy, then anyone can!

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And the award for most generous CEO goes too…

Henry Engelhardt, the founder and chief executive of UK Insurance group Admiral.  Having read with interest articles about him, I found his approach to running and leading a business in the FTSE 100 index of the largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, very inspiring.

“We have a very simple philosophy – if people like what they do, they will do it better,” Engelhardt says. “Or to put it another way – have fun, satisfy customers, make money.”

“And if people are unhappy at work, if they are brooding or jealous, it doesn’t help you do those things.”

And in May when he retires after 25 years at the helm, he and his wife, Diane Engelhardt are personally gifting between £500 and £1,000 to each member of Admiral’s 8,300-strong global workforce.  This gift is a gesture of thanks for all the employees’ hard work during his time as CEO.

All full-time staff with one year’s service will receive £1,000 and all other employees will receive £500.

The gift will total around £7 million.

Engelhardt  said “Saying thank you to all the Admiral staff who work so hard every day to make Admiral great is the most important thing we can do.”

“We are making this gift in recognition of the hard work and team spirit that has underpinned Admiral’s success as we’ve grown from a start-up with value of £0 to a FTSE 100 company with a value of £5 billion today.”

“I am proud to have been part of the team of thousands who have created such a great business and great place to work.

Mr Engelhardt, who owns about 15% of Admiral, personally introduces himself to all new members of staff in the UK, Canada and India, (it’s the little things that count).

His philosophy has obviously paid off, I love the fact that Admiral has  a “Ministry of Fun”, a team dedicated to organising weekly social activities for staff, such as come to work in fancy dress days, nights out, or computer game tournaments in lunch breaks and this obviously helps employees feel as equal and valued as possible.

The results are pretty clear, Admiral is the only company that has made all 14 of the annual 100 Best UK Companies To Work For reports by the Sunday Times newspaper!!

And secondly, Admiral says it is one of only two companies on the FTSE 100 to have reported 10 straight years of higher profits and dividends.

This is not the first time either that employees have benefited from such generosity.  After the 2004 flotation, non-management employees shared a windfall of £56m, which equated to an average of £40,000 per person.

Bravo, what a fantastic legacy to leave.

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Motivate yourself today!

We all like to receive positive feedback from our bosses, clients and colleagues; it puts a spring in our step allowing us to simply glide through the day. It’s like being given a little pat on the back by happiness itself and I don’t know about you but it motivates me to try that bit harder to do even better. Yeah right, that never happens to me I hear you say!

Well you are not alone. Most staff feel they are never congratulated or praised nearly as much as they should be, leaving them feeling unappreciated and even, well, a little sulky. And the fact is the more demanding your role the more likely it is you are facing negative critic let alone a “well done or thanks”! This sadly has the absolute opposite effect on your motivation leading to a more stressful working environment and there is nothing uplifting about that.

But I say, let’s face this negativity head on get motivated. Here are a few simple steps that can help…

The first rule, start the day as you mean to go on! Prepare yourself for a positive constructive day; it makes a huge difference and you will feel uplifted and your momentum will follow you throughout the day… you will be amazed at how much you will get done!

Surround yourself with positive, employees that enjoy their work and are driven, high achievers. There is no room for Mr(s) Whingy in our team…. any negativity should be stamped out!

Be proud! Your work is an important part of your life, you spend more hours at work than at home so treat your job, whatever it may be, with pride and you will feel your motivation elevate along with your success! Even if your role is not your ideal job there is a reason why you are doing it, so aim high and you will be rewarded; even if it’s with your own self-satisfaction that you’re doing it to the best of your ability!

When you can be satisfied with your work ethic and attitude, then you are truly living life the way it was meant to be lived and will stay motivated everyday… You never know, your new found happiness may just be catching and others might just give you the “well done” or “thank you” that gives that mini fist pump feeling after all.

Let us know if this helps, or if you want to share how you get motivated at work, we’d love to hear from you!

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