More Than Money – Are You Investing in Your Employees?

18th June 2018


It might surprise you to learn that not every employee cites their salary as the most important factor at work. In fact, around only one in ten people say that money comes first when it comes to their job, with the rest rating job satisfaction, company culture and good working relationships more highly.  

Even more surprisingly, this preference for a pleasant working environment led more than 50% of employees in the UK to claim that they’d rather earn less than work somewhere where they weren’t happy – even if it meant a big increase in salary.

So it’s good news for companies who are unable to throw money at top talent to keep them but is it worth investing in other areas of the business? Well, yes. Your staff talk and if the majority of your employees are having a miserable time at work, you can bet your bottom dollar they’re going to be telling everyone about it! Likewise, if you’re a great place to work, they’ll also be spreading the news – in turn helping to create brand or business awareness and attract quality candidates.

In addition, research carried out by the University of Warwick found that employees who are happier are more engaged – and are 12% more productive than those who aren’t. The obvious takeaway from this is that making sure your people are happy could have a real positive effect on your bottom line.

So how can you ensure your staff are committed to your company from the get-go? When a new member of staff joins you, of course training is a big part of their induction, but onboarding is also important. Ways you can ensure recent hires feel appreciated from their very first day include presenting them with a company handbook that will answer any questions they might have. There’s nothing worse than feeling disorientated and while it’s inevitable when starting a new job, you should do all you can to help minimize it.

Making sure your new hire understands company policies, their role within the company, and how they impact on their team and other departments is crucial (you can see more in our onboarding checklist here). A way of doing this could be to have new people shadow a more experienced employee for a few days, or spend time in other departments. They’ll see the firm’s ‘bigger picture’ and understand how they fit into the business as a whole.

When it comes to employee wellbeing and company culture, the obvious route to go down is providing either full or subsidized gym memberships for people, or allowing them to take time out for exercise. Or why not invest in team building – through traditional corporate days out, or even community or charity projects? And never underestimate the bonding power of the occasional happy hour!

Connections between individual employees and teams can be forged through (paid-for) team lunches or via one on ones consisting of the new team member and a more experienced one.

After all, the happier your workplace, the more likely you are to attract and retain top talent, resulting in a happier and more successful business.

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How to Show Staff They Are Valued – On A Budget

15th June 2018


Did you know that 40% of workers, across a range of industries, feel under appreciated by their employer? You might not think this a particularly worrying number – as long as they’re getting the job done, right? Actually, no. Employees who feel undervalued are more likely to waste time during the working day (up to two hours per person per day in some cases!) therefore losing your company money.

A staggering 81% of people polled said they’re more motivated at work when their boss shows them appreciation for a job done. And while no one in their right minds is going to turn down a pay rise, feelings of being appreciated also arise from being given interesting projects to work on and being included in decision making.

The good news is there are some simple ways that you can show your employees you appreciate them to improve their productivity – and your bottom line!

Most people enjoy a team lunch or Happy Hour – plus it’s a great bonding experience. You don’t have to spend a fortune at an upmarket steak house or wine bar – your local curry house or pub works just as well. You could also take an employee who’s gone above and beyond out for a one on one lunch, or even just a coffee. Unexpected small treats and simple things like a thank you note also ranked highly on employee lists of things that made them feel valued at work.

On a professional level nothing says you’re invested in an employee’s career growth by offering them opportunities to advance; think training or eLearning courses. Spreading the word about a job well done is also important. Share achievements with other members of staff and, of course, with your employee’s team. Not only will this make them feel valued but it also impacts on other employees, helping to motivate them and reinforcing your positive company culture.

Has a member of staff really surpassed themselves? Even if you’re not in a position to offer them a salary raise, giving them a new job title or a new role or responsibility can go a long way to showing appreciation (and increasing their productivity!)

The good news is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a large corporation or a small startup – you don’t need huge cash reserves or swanky gym memberships to retain talented staff. You just need a little humanity. Last but not least, don’t forget to reward your unsung heroes; just because someone doesn’t shout about their achievements doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a pat on the back too. 

We’ve developed a guide on how you can manage performance and reward staff regardless of the size of your company. Check out our guide here.

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Work hard, rest harder: should employers monitor rest time quality?

8th June 2018


As someone who works in an office, you’re probably well aware of how easy it is to work an eight hour day only to clock off feeling like you’ve achieved very little. In the UK we have some of Europe’s longest working hours – but we’re falling way behind countries such as Germany and France when it comes to our productivity levels.

Now with Brexit on the horizon, it’s becoming painfully obvious that we need to close our productivity gap before it starts taking its toll. And that’s where the HR department comes in as the need to implement ways to get more from your employees becomes ever more pressing.

The problem stems from the fact that many of us are too intent on the “wrong” sort of productivity and the need to cram as much as possible into each day can manifest itself through meetings, phone calls and never-ending emails – the result of which can be negligible.

Smartphones and social media have a part to play too with employees often being distracted while at work and failing to switch off in their free time. This can have a knock-on effect on creativity too: tired brains are less likely to think innovatively and people are more prone to switching off and doing the bare minimum to get through the working week.

It stands to reason, therefore, that an HR department would want to boost creative thinking and productivity through limiting employees’ use of technology and social media during their downtime – after all studies have shown that putting the phone down and spending some quality time with friends or family, or taking some exercise – even if it’s just going for a walk – is a way to increase energy and creative thinking.

But how do you know what your employees are doing in their free time? Some professionals have suggested that employers could, with the employee’s permission, monitor the quality of staff downtime through wearable technology and apps. Traditionally the working day is measured by the clock – but this focuses on quantity, not quality. Apps, on the other hand, can collect data about how much we’re moving and measure the quality of our sleep.

But isn’t this all a bit ‘Big Brother’? Detractors could argue that not only is it invasive but it could also increase stress levels as you’re giving people even more technology to deal with – and not to mention ‘watching’ them. Surely it’s counterintuitive to tell someone to go out and take a walk while monitoring them to see how relaxed they are?

An alternative could be to instead see what employees are spending their time on in the workplace – for example, if you have certain teams or managers who love holding meetings, ask them if there is a better way to communicate needs so that the focus is on productivity and not on procrastination. What do you think? Would you propose monitoring your colleagues’ free time if it meant booting company output?

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How to Deal with Difficult Employees

7th June 2018


You may have recently read about an incident in which an obsessed stalker, not content with keeping a ‘love diary’, took things one step further and camped outside his victim’s home for three days. How did he know where she lived? They were colleagues and their firm’s HR department gave him her home address. This is clearly a breach of trust and with GDPR on everybody’s mind at the moment, it doesn’t look great from a data protection point of view either.  This is the very definition of a difficult employee.

It may seem extreme but stalking is a real issue and as a responsible HR department you need to know what to do should one of your employees become a victim, whether the stalker is a colleague, a customer, or someone unrelated. Targets of stalkers can be under extreme stress and will be highly unlikely to be able to perform their job effectively. Stalking is also a cause of greater absenteeism. Of course, supporting an employee who is being stalked will be of huge comfort to them personally too.

Having a policy to deal with difficult employees is vital if you’re to limit the amount of time you spend dealing with the problems they cause. From upsetting other staff to being rude to clients to giving your company a bad name, a hard-to-handle employee can have serious negative impact in the workplace. So how do you deal with someone who refuses to play nice ?

Ignoring the problem – tempting as it is – is going to make matters worse. However, you need to approach the issue in an unbiased manner by giving the employee a fair hearing. Ensure you’re not viewing them through the lens of someone else’s personal dislike. Ask why are they being difficult? Is it a job issue? External problems? Could they need your support too?

If the employee is being difficult because they’re an abrasive or unpleasant person you need to firmly set them on the path to better behaviour in the workplace. Be constructive and explain what the issue is and illustrate why their actions are causing problems. After all, it’s affecting your business as well as their career. Tell them exactly what they need to do to improve and ensure you stick to company policy, in case things deteriorate further down the line.

It’s also important you document your meetings and keep records of their bad behaviour should you need to dismiss them – especially if they decide to take you to tribunal. On a positive note, they may be able to turn things round and become a valued and productive member in the workplace.

You can find out more information on how to deal with difficult employees in our guide to managing HR. Either read the webpage or download a free eGuide here.

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