With barely a headline in sight these days that doesn’t mention the words ‘soaring’ or ‘crisis’ **, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Summer was going to collapse all around us**. Be it inflation, tempers, temperatures or the planes and trains of our fair isle, there always seems to be something catastrophic happening ( and that’s before we’ve even reached the finals of Love Island…).
And whilst I’d personally love to take a time machine back to the Summer of 2012 in all it’s positive glory (in no particular order my highlights were the Olympics, Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France and Carly Rae Jepsom releasing ‘Call me Maybe’…) , keeping your team motivated through all this negativity may take a little more than popping up a Union Jack and crossing your fingers that the Lionnesses finally bring it ‘home’.
The good news is that being forewarned is forearmed, so knowing all that’s going around us, there’s plenty we can do to keep things on track and your team supported. So take a deep breath and a glass of (iced? G& ?) tea & let us guide you through the most likely ‘heat’ your team may be feeling this Summer and what you can to help:
Holidays (disruption) When people finally do get that overseas break they’ve been dreaming about for the last two years, there’s a strong chance at the moment that either flights might be cancelled (in the UK or abroad) or subject to severe delays. And whilst most delays/ cancellations don’t result in an epic stay in an airport, you might want to be a bit flexible on leave dates. In advance of holidays, chat to them and make sure all your team keep in contact & are aware that they can extend their leave in an emergency such as this. Leave for reasons relating to travel plans are not covered anywhere in our legals, so would be down to extending annual leave or (if you’re out of annual leave) unpaid leave.
Heatwave: Feeling hot yet? Yep, then join the 17,000 people who went out and bought a fan last week ( delighting some retailer who saw a 1,300% increase in sales!). Most people can’t get enough sunshine, but temperatures in the 30’s are highly uncomfortable and an office without air con in those temperatures is downright miserable. So we recommend that when it strikes again, that you are as flexible as possible with working from home if you can. After all, we have had two years practice in doing so ??
Juggling Childcare: Summer for working parents requires project management skills that rival any needed for a 5 year IT programme. But even with the best planning in the world, there are still going to be occasions timings don’t quite work. Parental leave is an option ( and a right) but as this is unpaid, encouraging people to either book annual leave or allow short term flexibility will be a gesture they are thankful for.
Costs: utilities + food bills + summer childcare = Pay rises are full of contention (and perhaps not an option) but salary sacrifice schemes such as the workplace nursery scheme can help save people hundreds of pounds and don’t cost your business any more than admin.
FOMO . Not a traditional one for an employer to be concerned of, it’s nevertheless a very real one. There may be many of your team who (due to all or some of the above) aren’t thinking of taking a long holiday this Summer and instead are just taking the odd day off. If the budget will stretch to it, why not organise your own event at the end of August to give people something to look forward to? Some of our clients have also experimented even with compressed ‘Summer’ hours to give people each Friday afternoon off across this period, giving people a chance to scoot off early for any plans they have. It’s not too late to try that for August if you want to give it a go?
Holidays (making sure they’re taken). We’re over half way through the year and therefore it’s a good point to remind people to plan in their time off to spread across the year. Using (extremely) unscientific data from my memory, there is always a proportion of your team who won’t have booked any and may need that extra nudge to give themselves a break – even reminding them that everyone needs a rest. Plus this also ensures you don’t have a holiday buildup headache come the end of the year.
We can’t get the transport system working seamlessly or influence your tax bill, but we can help implement an engagement plan to support your team and get them firing on all cylinders. To do so, drop us a line via firstname.lastname@example.org, give us a call on 0203 6277048 or pop in a diary time here.
**If, like me, you something get deflated by the relentless noise of the newspapers you see, take a break and have a look at The Happy Newspaper – it celebrates all that’s good in the world and really does lighten the soul when you read it!
“I’m sorry to send this email to you at the weekend, but I feel I need to raise something with you….”
In an ideal world everyone in your business would get on with each other, everyone would be in agreement on all things work related and no one would have conflict. And then there’s reality….
In 2021, ACAS (the independent public body which offers free advice to employees on employment matters) received more than 650,000 calls from people, raising concerns or asking for help in how to resolve issues at work. And these are the ones which are either escalated or which weren’t brought before an HR team or manager. Whilst disciplinaries and grievances might seem like the ‘bread and butter’ of HR teams & what we are ‘known for’ ( cringe…), we’ve seen more of the latter appear in the last couple of years. It would appear that – in part at least – some of this is due not having the face to face contact to vent their frustrations which people typically have done, leaving them to instead move to more formal channels.
Typically if someone in your team has a concern at work they would either raise it with you or one of your senior team. Sometimes these are relatively small and easy to manage (“I don’t like where I’m sitting” – you’d be amazed at how many of these there are…) and other times they’re more complex & require more sensitivity (“I’ve been treated unfairly and it’s impacted my mental health”).
Many concerns we see relate to situations where someone in the team has been impacted by the behaviours of another in the team – colleague or their own manager – as well as about their role and what autonomy they have (or haven’t) got. But whatever the complaint and however it arises, when it does, it’s important to be prepared and know how to handle it to minimise the chances of the situation escalating in order to find a suitable outcome.
If you do receive an email like this (or even if someone comes to speak to you face to face), it can be tempting to groan inwards and hope you can ignore the issue and it will improve. But no good will come of burying your head in the sand and just like problems with your customers, you’ll need to work through it carefully to avoid escalation: if it’s important enough to someone to raise, then it’s important enough to be addressed.
Informal steps are a good way to try and resolve some grievances but there are some fairly serious areas where an informal approach isn’t suitable and you should always check with your team member if they are happy to try and resolve it this way anyhow, rather than assuming.
All businesses should have a grievance policy (it’s one of the three compulsory policies you must legally have) so it’s worth brushing up on your own before you take any next steps. Also, it’s worth noting, that in technical terms, a formal grievance is submitted when it’s in writing , so Slack and Teams can still count….
Below are some suggested next steps to take if one does land in your lap & when following an informal process (which would always typically ‘shadow’ a formal one anyhow):
1. Make sure that you are aware of all of the relevant information in relation to the complaint. This means speaking to the person who made the complaint and not only hearing their side of the story but checking out any facts to support it: what their concerns are and what (if any) resolution they are looking for. Whatever you do – avoid making assumptions: about their intent, the situation. Anything.
2. Next up: get your Poirot act on as it’s time for a bit of detective work (or ‘fact finding’ as we say in the trade). Typically this is something which is easy enough to do if it’s a simple complaint and involves speaking to those referred to in it and separating out what supports it, what doesn’t and what can’t be found. Try and do this in a sensitive way however to minimise the number of people involved and maintain the confidentiality of the individual.
3. Once you have all the facts, you can start to look into resolving the grievance. Sometimes this will involve looking at any company policies or procedures which may be relevant, as well as taking into account any legal guidance or recommendations. Other times it might be that you find that there has been some wrongdoing and need to escalate it and take potential disciplinary action against another team member. At this stage, we would definitely advise talking it through with your HR guru to see what options you may have and how to mitigate any further risk.
4. If you haven’t already at this stage, we would recommend meeting with the person who made the initial grievance and discuss what you’ve found, what actions will be taken to resolve and why. It’s also a good opportunity to explain how the grievance procedure works and what the next steps will be if they are not happy with the outcome in this case.
If you’ve come to a resolution, happy days ( and this is the case in most situations), but it’s still important to follow up in writing so that there is a record of what was discussed and agreed upon. This can help to avoid future concerns and shows how seriously you’ve taken the complaint.
The steps above are just a guide: every grievance is different and so the process may vary slightly depending on the situation.
If you need a hand working your way through a concern someone has in your business or want to get up to speed on how different processes work, drop us a line via email@example.com or give us a call on 0203 6277048.
If the phrase ‘Management Training’ conjures up images of a suited three day offsite to a faceless training centre on the Surrey borders, then you likely came into the workplace at the same time as me…. . Management Training as it was when I entered corporate life, was very regimented, solely classroom based and very predictable. There were of course some real nuggets of learning to be found in many, but being stuck in a room for several days discussing areas that perhaps had little relevance to my own role in order to get to those, meant that the most exciting thing I often found to come out of it was the acquisition of a shiny new binder, most often condemned to a shelf once you arrived home and never viewed again ( case in point, I found 2 such folders from the early 2000’s when I moved house recently – I still hesitated to throw them out despite not having opened them for many years such is the ‘power of the binder’!).
As time went on and organisations evolved, this kind of training lost the appeal as a default programme all had to attend prior to promotion, with even Google questioning whether these kinds of roles and skills were necessary in the modern workplace and should they instead be consigned to the cupboard alongside the fax machines?!
Happily Google had the resources and data to investigate thoroughly in this area with their workforce to find that the answer to this question is a resounding ‘yes’, with the caveat of course that the right skills are being used (and at a sufficient level) by managers to support and motivate their team members. It turns out that great managers do indeed make a difference: to not just the welfare of their teams, but also the bottom line.
Their application of these skills can often make or break another team member’s experience in your business, yet individuals aren’t born with them and most of the team don’t arrive through your door fully formed either. They are developed over time. The challenge therefore comes as to how to support the development of them, make sure it is in line with your culture and what kind of investment is needed and can be found to do so.
Having been responsible for many an HR budget in my time, I know all too easily how the ‘training and development’ line can be a place to pad out figures, plunder for other priorities if the mood takes or simply just erase all together under times of pressure. But as we march towards a tightening of universal belts, having the right knowledge, skills and confidence to hire, manage and grow your team will be key to your success & remain a ‘must’. It will just be a question of cutting your cloth accordingly.
We know that growth and development is key to people’s retention – through good times and bad – but not everything needs to cost the earth, so here are a few focused learning options for you to consider which may help those who are new, aspiring or experienced to management to feel valued and develop:
1. Encourage Peer to peer learning and sharing: Encourage peers with similar management scope to share their knowledge with each other: what has worked with their team members, what challenges they’ve had.
2. Undertake blended or ‘classroom’ style flexible training that suits your culture: this still remains the go-to skills method development of choice with SME’s & our Management Essentials and Deeper Dive bite-size training sessions are designed to be flexible and support those keen on developing just the kind of skills the Google research found was key.
3. Utilise online training: sites such as Future Learn, Udemy and LinkedIn have online courses for a vast array of management skills in an accessible way. They may not allow so much interaction or always be so relevant for your particular needs, however they allow people to plug short gaps and there’s nothing more satisfying that ‘ticking off’ a new course!.
4. Share “best practice”: Bring in a recognised expert for your employees to spend some time with: use your network and contacts to find someone you admire and value and bring them into work with you. Get the more experienced members of your team to share some of their past notable successes.
5. Be a bookworm: most of those who want to develop are pretty hot on their reading, so encourage all to share the books that have given the most joy and/ or information when it comes to skills you can use with your team.
If you need a hand getting the team to get a boost for your Management Skills, drop us a line via firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0203 6277048.
“’It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. Oh Jane, we’ve come a long way….
June – the official month in the calendar to celebrate Pride and all things LGBT+ – came to an end yesterday. The global month long celebration, whose origins lie in honouring the 1969 Stonewall riots, aims to raise awareness of and campaigns to achieve, equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) communities, is having a an even bigger celebration in the UK this year to mark the first celebration of Pride march 50 years ago.
And they have much to celebrate: in the first Pride event in 1972, it is estimated that between 200 and 500 people took part, however fast forward to this coming Saturday 2 July, when this year’s Pride takes place in London, it’s estimated that there will be approximately 1.5 million people in attendance.
For many this means an opportunity to learn and show understanding and solidarity and promote education on issues which affect the LGBT community. For some, just a party. For others however, it’s an opportunity to celebrate their own life in a totally safe environment.
So what’s it all about therefore. Let’s have some facts:
Just under 1.4 million people in the UK identify as LGBT+ (ONS) – 2.7% of the general population (although unofficial figures put it % anywhere between 2 and 5% of the population)
The number of those identifying as LGBT+ in the last few years have been on the increase
In 2019 the UK received the highest score in Europe for LGBT+ rights (seeing progress on same sex marriage, civil partnerships, adoptions rights etc)
But whilst progress has been seen and attitudes have shifted in the last 50 years in a more positive way for the LGBT+ community, lest you think that it’s just rainbows and unicorns and there’s nothing to campaign for/ be aware about in 2022, here comes the Prejudice part.…
35% of LGBT staff have hidden their LGBT status for fear of discrimination at work (Stonewall)
Over 20% of LGBT+ workers experience discrimination during recruitment and promotion, and over a third worry about possible bias
Seven in ten LGBT+ workers have been sexually harassed or assaulted at work (TUC) – that is nearly twice the number for those not identifying
Even if you’re thinking right now “hang on a minute, that sort of stuff doesn’t go in my business”, take a moment to consider the first bullet point in the list as well and consider what else you could proactively do to make sure that everyone in your team feels supported and safe when they come to work.
Setting an intention to have an inclusive team (rather than just assuming you have one) which is psychologically safe will have more chance of creating one where people can bring their whole selves to work without fear (and certainly without hiding their own status). And being known for this kind of culture is not just good for your attraction rates, but leads to greater innovation, retention and ultimately success within teams. We’d always recommend discussing with your teams themselves and hearing their voices first and foremost on what you can do to promote safety in your teams & create a more inclusive culture, but to help support your own inclusion of LGBT+ team members, try the following (recommended by Business In The Community):
Explicitly recognise that you have LGBT+ staff in your workforce (and customer base)
Review your Policies to ensure that they are not just as generally inclusive as possible but that they are specifically so for the LGBT+ staff and that they are accessible
Don’t assume people’s gender, sexual orientation or pronouns
In short, Pride in your teams doesn’t stop in June. And nor does inclusivity.
If you need a hand reviewing your own framework for diversity and inclusion in your business, drop us a line via email@example.com or give us a call on 0203 6277048.