Christmas is nearly upon us and for many SMEs it’s a chance for their employees to let off a little steam. But for others, its a case of ‘all hands on deck’. Whatever the nature of your business, there will be varying levels of ‘business as usual’ over the festive period. Whilst Christmas is an important opportunity to show the team you appreciate their efforts, budget and business constraints often mean you can’t go over the top.
Here are 10 thoughtful ways to show your team you care which don’t cost a penny:
Catch up with every team member before the year end. Thank them personally for their individual contribution, giving specific examples of how their actions have contributed to the business’ success. This is the single most important thing you can do.
The Christmas holidays can be particularity challenging for those with school-age children or any other dependants. Some flexibility in working hours can be just what’s needed to help stressed-out parents ferry little people to and from activity clubs/playdates/granny’s house, making both family and work life a bit easier.
Quieter business periods can often be a good time to offer home working options to some team members. Whilst this might seem like a leap of faith, be comforted by the fact that the average worker tends to get way more done without the distractions of the office and a busy commute. Laying out clear expectations at the start is a wise move, but then step back and give them the trust and respect to do things they’re own way.
Christmas Shopping Afternoon
Some things just can’t be bought online. Whether its collecting the turkey from Smithfield or queuing for the world’s best cheese board at Neal’s Yard Dairy, a few hours grace to let staff do what they need to do to make Christmas special for them and they’re family could be the best present of all.
Get In The Festive Mood
Embrace the Christmas frivolities. Hang those decorations up, take part in Save The Children’s Christmas Jumper Day on Friday December 14th and organise an office Secret Santa. Allowing yourself to be seen to have bit of fun will humanise you and make you more approachable to your staff. And that’s never a bad thing.
Make Sure They’re Healthy
Christmas is also the season to catch cold and flu. The best way to protect your staff from illness is to fight presenteeism in your business. By being very clear that your expectation is for sick people to stay at home (and by leading by example here yourself!) it will quickly become part of your company’s culture. A few ‘Now Wash Your Hands’ stickers in the loo wouldn’t do any harm either! Be mindful of the team’s mental health too. It’s so common for individuals to become completely burn out and/or overwhelmed at this time of year. A couple of rest days when they’re really needed can help avoid a whole world of problems in the long run.
Make Sure Their Welfare Is Protected
As you are aware, it’s also your responsibility to safeguard your team’s welfare at work. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure all relevant HR policies are in place. Legally, in the UK you’re only required to have Disciplinary & Dismissal, Grievance and Health & Safety Policies in a workplace. There are lots more you might want to consider though – for more on this click here. Whilst I’m not suggesting you circulate these to the team the afternoon of the Christmas party, as this is a common time for grievances to occur, it would be a good idea to ensure your policies are up to date and readily accessible.
Spare a thought for the poor souls manning the office over Christmas. Being someone’s holiday cover, however, can often be a real development opportunity. Some extra responsibility coupled with clear objectives and a defined chain of command could be exactly what’s needed to give someone a bright start to 2019.
Keep An Eye Out For Those Who Always Work Christmas
For some, Christmas is a time of year they’d rather be over with. Whilst an bit of extra responsibility might make the time go faster, do check in on how they’re doing and make sure they know that when a special day or event comes around in their life you’ll support them in being able to make the most of it.
Have Some Rest Yourself
It’s important that you and the leadership team enjoy the Christmas period too. Time away from the business can often give a much needed fresh perspective and is a valuable opportunity to re-charge your batteries. You’ll need to be firing on all cylinders to get the team motivated and excited to hit the ground running in 2019.
For help and advice on any HR issue give us a bell on 0203 627 7048 for a free chat to discuss how we can help you or get in touch via email@example.com.
It’s a commonly held misbelief that company culture is just a bunch of motivational adjectives (brave, creative, innovative *delete as appropriate) graffitied on the walls of funky/industrial looking offices with pool tables, Nespresso machines and beers on a Thursday at 5pm (look how relaxed and fun we are)…. However I’m afraid I’m here to burst this bubble. If culture really was that easy to nail, every company in Shoreditch would be winning the Best Company’s award and constantly turning away the cream of London’s talent pool.
So what is a company’s culture?
In its most simple form, a company’s culture can best be described as the way you do things as a team and how you behave towards each other. There is no point having ‘be bold’ emblazoned across the wall in flashing lights if every time someone takes a risk at work they are chastised by senior management for not seeking several layers of approval first.
How do I define ours?
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I passionately believe your organisation’s culture is the backbone of your business and what I’m about to say next is probably my best piece of advice on the topic…
*** It’s OK not to be Facebook, Google or Airbnb when it comes to culture ***
In fact, it’s more than ok, it’s mandatory (unless of course you are Facebook, Google or Airbnb in which case, as you were!). Culture is about being true to who your organisation is, stating what kind of company you are and working out what it is about your company that makes people join (and more importantly, stay!) then singing that tune from the rooftops!
The best way of working this all out is to…. ask people
It’s that simple. From the co-founder who’s been by your side since day 1, to the newbie who kicked off their induction yesterday and the leadership team who make critical decisions about the business every day. Everyone will have a view and you’ll probably find a handful of similarities running through what they say – that’s the foundation of defining your culture.
Once you’ve got this key information from your team, it’s time to decide if it’s in line with what you really want the culture to be. If the answer is yes then great, good work! You can now focus your time on how you’re going to spread that message to both current and potential employees (employer branding, your recruitment page on the website and sure, why not paint those words on the wall in the canteen, after all you know they are true now!)
But what if my view of our culture is different to everyone else’s?!
There is of course the chance that what employees currently say about your business, doesn’t really align with how you want to be perceived (for example: I was told at interview that this company values work life balance but if I leave my desk on time then my manager makes comments about me being a part timer).
Look for the trends in what people are saying
It’s tempting to dismiss these views, ‘oh the manager is just mucking around’ or ‘god, she’s being way too sensitive’ but this isn’t advisable. Whilst it’s important not to dwell on every negative piece of feedback you might get (that’s a pretty destructive and depressing way to live your life after all), the silent killer of culture is saying one thing, and doing another.
Take definitive action to get things back on track
So, armed with the definition of your ideal culture and this knowledge of what reality may well be like, it’s time to address the way you do things and how your team behaves so that it’s more in line with what you want your culture to be.
I won’t lie, this can be challenging and will probably take a fair amount of time. You won’t change people’s deep set behaviours overnight. A few tips from me on the topic? Lead by example, call out people when you see them acting in contradiction to the desired culture (but do so in a way that’s in line with it too!) and of course, reward people who do demonstrate the company values – this will encourage more people to follow suite!
Here at The HR Hub we’ve worked with a wonderful array of businesses at every stage of culture definition (from the head scratching start up phase of ‘who do we want to be’ to the exciting growth phase of ‘how do we scale our business whilst keeping our culture strong’) and we love nothing more than helping a business to align its actions with its words. So, why not give us a call to discuss how we can help your business to define, manage or enhance your culture?
Within SMEs, career development opportunities can seem few and far between. And within a small team, their impact can be huge. Here are our top tips on how to go about promoting from within – whilst keeping your team intact.
Succession Plan For All Roles
Take it from me, any time taken away from the coal face to think about the development of your people will never be wasted time. Think carefully about who will be the successors for all roles – including yours – and don’t just go for the obvious. This strategic thinking could impact not only on your recruitment over the next few years but also on your team’s engagement and business strategy as a whole. As a small business grows, many early team members will be concerned that their impact may be diluted by a whole new senior team being recruited externally, so be open with the team about what opportunities there may be in the future and how they may be a part of this.
Be Realistic About Skills Gaps
Where possible, I would always try and recruit from within. If an internal candidate has 70% of what’s required to do the job and that extra 30% can be learnt in house – what are you wanting for? Give them a chance. Witnessing hard work and talent being rewarded can have such positive effect on the whole team. But sometimes, particularly with technically specific roles, to keep ahead of the competition you’ll need to bring the talent in. This can be huge investment, so make sure you do it properly with a well thought out recruitment campaign , carefully considered on boarding programme and (crucially) with the buy-in and/ or involvement of some of your existing team.
Create A Personalised L&D Plan For Each Individual
For every potential internal promotion, think carefully about how you as leader can help individuals get the skills they need to move up. Sometimes this may involve investment in external training. But in my experience some of the most valuable learning opportunities can be provided in-house. Mentorship programmes and job shadowing for example can be hugely valuable, for all parties involved. Empower the team to take ownership of their own learning too. One of my favourite ways to do this is to let each employee expense the odd ebook/podcast/periodical relevant to the business or their function and share their learnings with the team.
Bin The Annual Review
For me, yearly reviews have always seemed pretty pointless. Meet once a month if you can, but at least once every few months. Whilst catching up on operational issues and where team members are vs targets, check in on where they are at with their own development too to make sure it’s moving forward. There’s little point in having an personal development plan if that’s all it remains…. If you demonstrate to the team that their personal development is a priority for you (and action anything you’ll say you do promptly) it’ll be a priority for them and become part of the culture at your organisation.
Be Conscious Of Those Left Behind
Seeing a close team member move up to a new role without you can be hugely demotivating whether you were in line for the role or not. Communication here is so important – and you must be in control of the messaging. The last thing you want is for your employees to find out about an internal promotion through the office jungle drums. Once you’ve made the decision, let them whole team know asap – ideally at the same time – what is going to be happening and why. And where possible, try and turn what could be a perceived set back into an opportunity for everyone, positioning it within the context of a team re-structure with enhanced roles/responsibilities for all. If you’re aware of a particular individual who might take the news especially badly, take them out for a chat to discuss specifically and head this off. Making sure its you they vent to (rather than others in the team!), will give you the chance to offer some explanation, words of support and help those sour grapes taste a little less bitter.
For help or advice on any HR issue get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 627 7048 to speak to our team direct. We’re offering a free initial review to help you understand how to make the valuable changes to best support your business.