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People Matter July 2016

HR Dept customer satisfaction survey nears all time high

HR Dept customer satisfaction survey nears all time high We are delighted to report that our customer satisfaction level for 2016 is 9.3 out of 10. This is up from last year, and just short of our 2014 peak. Thank you to everyone who responded. It’s such a pleasure to work with so many great SMEs. Surveys are also about seeing where improvements can be made, and we appreciate your comments, which will help us to get even better.

As well as measuring our own performance, we use the survey as a barometer for SME sentiment. The results here were a mixed bag.

Positive was that a majority of businesses felt confident enough to give employees a pay rise over the next six months. More than one third said they would do so by up to 2%, a quarter were planning 2-5% increases, while lucky employees at 5% of businesses could look forward to a pay rise of more than 5%.

Not so good was recruitment, where redundancy is on the rise. In 2015, just 2.7% of businesses were planning to lose staff. This year that figure has risen to 5%. Although these figures paint a picture before Brexit, it’ll be interesting to see how they compare to next year’s!

Back to good news and we saw significant increases in proactive businesses using our added value services like Health and Safety training, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) and psychometric testing. These are terrific ways for your HR function to add value to your overall business, so we would recommend all SMEs explore the benefits of such services.

Suffer from poor attendance?

If yes, look on the bright side as it’s unlikely your case is as extreme as this! A (now retired) civil servant in Spain is in hot water after he was exposed for not turning up for work for six years, whilst still pocketing his €37,000 salary. It gets worse…

The misdemeanour was only discovered after he was lined up for a length of service award! And worse…
He then tried to sue his boss for not noticing the absence!!

Despite the sheer cheek of the counter-lawsuit, there was clearly some shocking institutional incompetence happening. For the record, it occurred because the employee was posted from the council to a water company. Each assumed that he was carrying out his duties on the other’s premises. Unauthorised absences can hit SMEs hard, so make sure you’re managing them appropiately.

Banter in the workplace

Workplace banter happens everywhere. But it is sometimes difficult to judge when it crosses the line. The difficulty is that there is often a grey area surrounding what is deemed as ‘respectful’ or ‘responsible’ when banter is involved. What may be said in jest by one party could be hurtful or even considered discriminatory to others. Legislation is in place protecting characteristics such as sexual orientation, gender, and race under the Employment Equality Act 1998.

Managing difficult conversations

The majority of managers dread having certain difficult conversations with their employees. Difficult conversations are sometimes necessary, though, in order for the business to function and to maintain an open-minded culture within the workplace.

So what could count as a difficult conversation?
Addressing substandard performanceRaising issues about inappropriate dress
A body odour or bad breath situation
Talking too loudly (and other irritating, atmosphere-damaging habits)
Fallout from an office romance
Sexual harassment complaints
Workplace conflict between two staff members
Refusing annual leave or flexible working requests
Redundancy or dismissal.

Cringing at the thought of these yet? Do not bury your head in the sand. You are not alone and we are here to help. Here are our tips for dealing with difficult conversations.
Identify the problem and face up to it!

Prepare. Establish the facts, check your policies and procedures and read your employee’s file.Do some more preparation.Be clear about exactly what the problem is and the impact it is having on the business and their colleagues. Identify your ideal outcome, and think about what it is that you are most worried about happening, so that you can try to avoid that scenario.

Be in control. You need to control the meeting and how it progresses. It’s not about winning or losing so negotiate if appropriate. But you set the terms and remain in control of your emotions (and temper) too! Stick to a clear agenda.

First, the introduction – set the tone you want for the meeting. Second, explain the issues and evidence. Third, ask for an explanation or their contribution. And fourth, agree a way forward. Document and communicate the outcomes and monitor the progress.

Looking forward to Rio

With our summer of sport in full swing, next in the sporting calendar is the much anticipated Rio Olympics. Here are some tips that can ensure that you and your team have a swimmingly good experience throughout the event.

Fair play – It’s championed by the International Association of Athletics Federation and it’s crucial when you are managing holiday requests. Be as accommodating as you can and when tough decisions need to be made, stick to your policies. Most of all, be fair.

Be wary of cheats – Just as there have been issues with doping and performance enhancing drugs in sport, some employees may be tempted to cheat and pull a sickie to watch their favourite event.

The extraordinary event –Run a sweepstake or host a social event based around one of the games; these are easy and popular ways to engage with staff and, most importantly, have fun!

Managed properly, national sporting celebrations are something to be… celebrated!
So do just that, and take advantage of the atmosphere and excitement whilst you’re at it! With the policies and procedures in place, and The HR Dept at the other end of the phone, you’ll have a great time!

What to wear?!

During the recent heatwave that reached our shores, there was uproar as organisationsattempted to enforce dress codes. One company even sent home an employer for wearing shorts because it broke ‘health and safety’ regulations. Is this health & safety gone mad?! Dress codes aren’t just a problem in summer – they can be an issue all year round.

Earlier in the year, an agency worker was instructed to wear heels by her boss. When she refused to comply, stating that it was discriminatory, she was sent home without pay. If you have a strict dress code it may be wise to review it to ensure it’s justified, and not discriminatory.
The ‘high heels’ case resulted in significant negative publicity for the agency concerned.

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