6 office tasks UK workers waste over 400m days a year on

Research commissioned by Red Letter Days for Business found that workers are wasting time on mundane office tasks, including replying to emails, attending pointless meetings or completing admin.

The research identified six key areas where UK employees are wasting their time:

  1. Too many meetings that go on for too long (46%)
  2. Too much admin (38%)
  3. Too many emails (29%)
  4. People management i.e. misbehaving colleagues (25%)
  5. Technology being slow (24%)
  6. A micromanaging boss (21%)

Employees spend an average of 1.2 hours every single working day in meetings, totalling six hours every week, whilst 22% say their time is eaten up by admin tasks, such as filling out timesheets.

Overflowing inboxes also prevent employees from getting things done, with 45% of workers saying they have to respond to emails out of their contracted working hours to keep up. 26% said that they have trouble finding documents due to their email volume.

It seems our modern office environment has created bad habits. Technology, such as emails, should be speeding up processes not slowing them down. Something is going very wrong here. Businesses’ need to work together to retrain on areas like email etiquette in the workplace and to encourage better collaboration and efficiencies.

The research also found 42% of employees have seen no response from their employer to the Government’s ‘Fixing the Foundations’ plan, launched in 2015 to improve productivity levels in the workplace.

Employees were also asked about what could be put in place to help improve their output. The top five responses included:

  1. Flexible working (22%)
  2. Better technology (19%)
  3. A happy workplace (17%)
  4. Increased job satisfaction (15%)
  5. Better recognition from senior management (14%)

The fact that flexible working is at number one is very interesting, most jobs now require us to be flexible with our time; in fact 44% of employees polled confirmed they did overtime because they have a flexible role and work to complete a job, rather than work specific hours. Yet, with 57% of employees confirming they only work from the office, it seems businesses need to catch up with the flexible working idea.

If you would like to discuss any HR issues, please give HR Revolution a call we’d love to help, call us on +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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A version of this article first appeared in HR Grapevine.

10 of the best “i’m sick” excuses…

Do you remember the time last year,  when you had to call in sick because a swarm of bees were surrounding your car and you couldn’t get in it to get to work… No.. didn’t think so?

However, someone does, believe it or not that is a real excuse that was given by an employee to her manager to explain her not turning up to work, according to a survey carried out by Career Builder and this is just one of the many outrageous excuses that popped up.

Did you know that over 30% of workers have called in sick when they were actually well… Be warned though, there are quite a high number of employers that do actually check up to see if it is legitimate and some of these excuses might not cut the mustard…

In order of popularity:

  • They just didn’t feel like going to work.
  • They simply need to relax (personally I relax more at work than I do with 3 kids running round!).
  • They had a doctor’s appointment (ok, my doctor is always running late, but not by a whole day!).
  • They needed to catch up on some sleep (poor little lambs).
  • They have a few personal errands that need running (could you drop off my dry cleaning whilst skiving!).

They seem a bit lame don’t they and as an employer/employee I’m sure you’ve heard them all, but have you heard some of these “real” beauties…

I’m too drunk to drive.

I got arrested!?!

My friend is on annual leave so I can’t get a lift.

It’s my dog’s birthday and I need to arrange a party for him.

And HR Revolution’s favourite excuse to call in sick…

An employee said that someone had glued all her doors and windows shut and she couldn’t leave the house!

These are all genuine – honest – please do let us know if you have any more weird and wonderful excuses, we’d love to hear them.

All jokes aside though, as an employer you are perfectly entitled to challenge the authenticity of an absence and if an excuse seems a bit too far-fetched then ask for evidence if appropriate.

HR Revolution can help, download our FREE guide to dealing with sickness and absence in the workplace HERE.

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Personality traits are NOT an excuse for poor behaviour!

Here in the HR Revolution office we have just undergone the DISC profile training, which is a modern interpretation of Dr. William Marston’s behavioral dimensions; a personal strengths profiling exercise that uncovers four quadrants of behaviour. Once you understand your natural behavioral patterns, it is said that you will find it easier to recognize the right opportunities to achieve the results you desire. These for quadrants are:

D – Dominance  I – Influence  S – Steadiness  C – Compliance

What I personally think the great thing about DISC is, it highlights other people’s personality traits, so you can understand better why they work the way they do, for example why one person might like to have all the facts and figures, while others are just, let’s just get on and worry about the details later…. It turns out we have both in our office which is actually a really good thing as we all fulfill different roles.

Anyway, DISC is a lot more in depth than I can offer in this blog and not the reason for me writing today, but it got me thinking… why is it that people tend to use their personality traits as an excuse for unacceptable behaviour?

How many times have you said “ignore him, you know what he’s like” or “don’t let her get to you, it’s just the way she is” or “why does everything have to revert back to them” and whilst this is true, does it make it ok?? I don’t think so.

I personally like to think that no one person is just one personality type and we are intelligent enough to know how to behave and adapt our styles towards other people.

Here is just one adjective describing a personality trait from each of the above groups: D: direct, I: emotionless, S: easily distracted and C: retreating, and I don’t think any of them are particularly positive (obviously there are lots of happy ones too!). But just because they are ‘part’ of our personality does that mean that’s how we should act? For example just because you are ‘direct’ naturally, does that mean you can use absolutely no tact whatsoever when communicating with colleagues? OR just because you tend to be ‘retreating’ does that mean you should get out of doing the things you are not comfortable with? Of course the answer is absolutely no.

So I guess what I am trying to say is, if we know what we are predominately like rather than using that behaviour as an excuse, why don’t we all try to bring through some of our other personality traits, or just take time to think about how we are being perceived by the recipient… be less blunt, show empathy or be bolder, whatever you feel would work best in that given situation.

Personality traits should be used to benefit you and others, not as an excuse to make people cry or be lazy!  Trust me, I know how difficult it is to adapt your natural behaviour to suit the needs of the situation, as my profile is DS the two most polar opposites!

If you are interested in learning more about DISC or any other personality testing within your business, please get in touch with HR Revolution +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk, it may be what you need to get your team working more cohesively together.

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Fri fun… Does your boss make the tea/coffee…

According to a recent poll by Yorkshire Tea, over half of bosses have never made a cup of tea for their employees!!  I suppose I’m one of the lucky ones then, as my boss at HR Revolution most certainly makes a good cuppa, both tea and coffee!!

Apparently the worst culprits are head teachers, whereas builders and IT Chiefs are the most likely to put the kettle on.

The survey also found that men were more likely to make themselves tea without asking anyone else if they would like one, now this I can believe!

However, the research also found that nearly half of UK workers were too busy to stop for a cup of tea, and one in four thought they were not allowed a tea break.  This could be harming their efficiency as 44% of workers said they felt revived after a cuppa, and 33% felt more productive.

Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James warns that ‘presenTEAism’ could potentially do more harm than good.

“Fewer tea breaks reflect the increasing pressure people feel they are under at work. Whereas in the past taking a tea break was seen as a valuable social activity in the office, it is now beginning to be seen as an unnecessary indulgence and waste of productive work time.

“Yet research has indicated time and time again that striking a balance by taking short breaks during the working day increases people’s productivity and creativity.’

What are your thoughts on the tea/coffee break debate?  At HR Revolution, we most definitely need caffeine, how much caffeine do you need to get through the day.

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A version of this blog first appeared on HR Grapevine.

Friday fun… 5 things that you will absolutely talk about in the office… SOON!

There is a certain chill in the air in the mornings, Autumn is most definitely on its way… and that means these 5 fun facts will absolutely happen in your office in the very near future… A few have already happened in the HR Rev offices, sadly summer is a long distant memory…

  1. You will moan at anyone who starts talking about Christmas – however, secretly you will be getting really excited about what you want to get for a secret Santa present!! – only 87 sleeps people… (remember crimbo, does bring with it a crimbo party, but that’s a whole other blog!)
  2. The office temperature goes from tropical to artic – too hot in the Summer, too cold in the Autumn queue moaning.  Are blankets or duvets ever acceptable work attire? – you may want to check your Dress Code policy on that one!!!!
  3. Tea and coffee rounds increase (who’s turn it is, is a whole other convseration!!) and are one of the sole sources of warmth – everyone gets excited about the new flavoured drink – mines a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks thanks!
  4. On average you will lose about 3 umbrellas – and won’t realise until you need to walk a mile tothe office in the pouring rain…  Then the day you do bring it, the wind will blow it inside out anyway… windproof… yeah right!
  5. You go to work in the dark – and you come home in the dark too… that’s why we have a cheese board at Christmas, to make up for the lack of vitamin D we aren’t getting from the sun… which we never see anymore! Ok, so I made that bit up, good excuse though!

Hey, it’s not all doom and gloom though… those extra large tubs of choccies are already in the shops… YAY!!

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Friday fun… 5 reasons why chocolate is good for you

Yesterday was World Chocolate Day!!! Sadly in the HR Rev offices we don’t need any excuse at all to indulge our sweet tooth!, once a packet of any kind of chocolate is opened it’s demolished within minutes…

But it’s good to know that chocolate actually has a number of surprising health benefits, from helping to lower your blood pressure to kicking your cough… in moderation of course…

  1. It can lower your blood pressure – A recent study found that chocolate and cocoa products are flavanol rich which have a significant effect in lowering blood pressure in the short term and the flavanols found in cocoa beans aid the production of nitric oxide, which stimulates blood vessels to dilate.
  2. It’s good for your bones –  A small bar of white chocolate (approx 50g) contains one sixth of the recommended daily allowance of calcium.
  3. Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants – These are the disease fighting flavenoids, which can also be found in red wine and many fruit and veg.
  4. It can help with PMS – one for the boys to consider!! Chocolate releases calming endorphins that reduce anxiety and is high in magnesium which lifts moods and reduces water retention.
  5. It can help your cough – Remember this next time you get a tickly cough, one of the chocolate components theobromin has been found to reduce the activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers coughing fits.

No more feeling guilty, chocolate is good for you, I think it should be World Chocolate Day everyday… happy Friday everyone.

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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.

Ideas worth spreading…

Last Saturday I attended the TEDx talk in Tunbridge Wells.  TEDx for those who don’t know it is a world renowned creative conference, founded under the slogan “Ideas worth spreading” and has been running for 32 years.

http://www.tedxroyaltunbridgewells.com/event

Sadly, I was feeling rather sorry for myself as my attendance was with a rather bad hangover down to the previous night’s excesses!!  But it turned out to be most inspiring and productive way to spend a few hours of my day and for once I was able to think less about myself and how I was feeling and focus on the amazing, inspiring, creative talent that can be found in my local area.

Nick Adams who chairs the organisation in Tunbridge Wells said, “the theme ‘leap of faith’ is to encourage people to think a little differently and view the world in a different way, feel a little more inspired, a bit more professional about what they do and a more informed person”.

Over the course of the day there were 17 speakers, all very compelling, but the ones that most inspired me were the people that tirelessly work to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

Ringpullman a local TW resident that dresses as a mysterious caped crusader, glides around town on a unicycle raising awareness of the Philippine Community Fund (PCF) who help children in the Philippines that scavenge on rubbish tips to find ring pulls for their parents to make a living.  By asking us to collect ring pulls from cans they can be turned into handbags, bracelets and other pieces of jewellery that can be sold by the PCF, giving these children a chance to get out of the slums and to go to school.

Jaz O’Hara quit her job in fashion to become a humanitarian after seeing the conditions in the Calais ‘refugee jungle’.  It was the power of Facebook that championed her cause – one personal blog on what she had seen went viral overnight and reached over 65,000 people, who donated clothes, blankets and has so far raised over £150,000.

The charitable causes list goes on and as individuals, as Corporations, as Society we can and should try to make a difference, doing nothing is not an option.

Question is what are you going to do to make a difference?

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Is your office ready for the long hot summer*?!

This week finally the temperature is set to rise. Conversation in the HR Rev office has turned to bikini diets and summer holidays. I will be making the most of my lunch hour basking in the sunshine, watching the world go about its business will a smile – amazing what a blue sky day can do for moral of the masses, so as ever the optimist summer is very firmly on the horizon!!

However, is your business ready?

As always, a little preparation can go a long way. Here, are a few considerations that you might need to think about to make sure your business is ready…

Are you keeping spirits high?

The summer can be a bit of an issue for employers and there are often many factors at play that can present unique circumstances. Employees are taking time off, sunny beer gardens seem much more appealing than the office, popular sporting events Euro 2016, Wimbledon, Ascot, the 2016 Olympics in Rio to name but a few are scheduled for right in the middle of the working day.

So it’s easy to see why motivation and engagement can sometimes be lacking over the warmer months. Instead of trying to firefight problems once they arise, be proactive and consider what you can do to raise spirits. Organise an outdoor picnic during the lunch hour, treat your staff to an ice cream, or organise to have the biggest sporting events (see above) streamed into the workplace. Small gestures can often go a long way and will make for a happy workplace.

How will you handle a heat wave?  (we can live in hope!!!)

Every now and again, the weather throws a pleasant surprise our way and it is the topic of most offices during the summer months as to whether the Met Office has got its predictions right and we will have the “hottest summer on record” and be able to wheel out the BBQ on a daily basis.  But as an employer do you know what’s expected of you when it comes to managing the working environment when temperatures soar? There’s no upper guideline or legislation to refer to, so it’s about using a bit of simple common sense. Is the office getting hot and stuffy? Is it uncomfortable for your staff? If so, think about making some adjustments. Fans can make a good quick fix, and you should always ensure that fresh cold water is available for drinking.

Also, it may be wise to revisit your dress code policy with employees and set some parameters for summer dress, what is acceptable or what is not in the office.  Nobody wants to have the conversation summer casual vs. summer sloppy!! And in my experience there is always a lot of scope for interpretation!!

Download our free ready to use Dress Code policy template here

Have you mapped out staffing requirements?

More often than not, the summer months pose challenges in terms of making sure that you effectively manage the annual leave rota so work still gets done. The starting point here must involve working out what you need. How will you ensure the phones are answered, and queries are dealt with in a timely manner? How many team members need to be present at any given time? Go back to basics.

Don’t forget to think about how you can use this period to create opportunities. It can be a time to engage employees who are eager to progress and step up and contribute to ongoing projects whilst their colleagues are away, or take on a more diverse range of responsibilities to assist with their professional development.

Perhaps you’ve got your plan of action mapped out, and you are confident that you’re ready for the long hot summer*. Or maybe you’re feeling unorganised and worried about the issues you know you’ll have to handle in the very near future.   If so, don’t hesitate to give us a call to discuss any concerns you may have.

*wishful thinking

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Dealing with difficult people at work…

The modern workplace is full of different people with different personalities and values, so it is inevitable that there are going to be clashes at some point or another.

I’m sure that you have encountered a colleague whose behaviour you felt was unacceptable, or even if you are lucky enough not to, here are a few good tips to keep in mind.

Stay Cool

When someone is behaving badly and spreading negativity in the office it’s difficult to ensure it doesn’t affect you in the same way.

Negativity breeds itself and if you have to spend your day with a colleague who you are not compatible with, it’s really hard to muster up the motivation to get on with your work and be the best you can be.

The trick is to not let it get you down. Whenever you’re feeling frustrated at a colleague, let yourself feel that way for a few minutes and then in the words of  a well known song let it go.

Don’t over analyse and worry what other people have said, it is a waste of time and energy and stress simply doesn’t help the situation.

Address the situation

If you’re having trouble working with a colleague, it’s important you attempt to resolve your issues as soon as possible. Often, this person will be oblivious to the fact you’re not enjoying your working relationship… if you don’t address the problem and let them know what you’re having difficulty with, how do you expect them to change?

This can be an awkward conversation, but it is the most professional way to come to a solution which is beneficial for both parties

Listen and take action

Once the situation has been made clear, it’s important you listen to what they have to say. Acknowledge their concerns, validate their feelings, try to understand their behaviour but DO NOT take the blame.

Try and remain professional at all times, so avoid getting personal and looking frustrated, stay calm and open minded.

You want to end the conversation with a clear resolution, so make sure you have a list of actions you are both going to take, showing you have been productive and found resolutions to save your working relationship.

And if that doesn’t work… Wait

Most people can’t change overnight and it will take time for them to break their bad habits.  Give them the space to let the message sink in.

However, if you’ve tried everything you can to improve the situation but there is still no change, then it’s time to consider your options.

Nobody likes telling tales, but if you’ve done all you can in a constructive manner and you’re no closer to a resolution, you may have to ask your superior to get involved.

As long as you can present your case with examples of inappropriate behaviour and are completely sure that you are not being over-sensitive, there’s no reason why you can’t ask for help.

If you are struggling with any communication issues, why not download our FREE HRREV Guide to Effective Communication HERE

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