Stepping out of the North Sea on New Year’s Day after my short ‘dip’, I was grappling with changing back out of my wetsuit into dry clothes under an enormous (yet not quite big enough…) towel, when my family were greeted by some passers by on the beach shaking their heads and muttering “It takes all sorts” to each other. We smiled and nodded at them through chattering teeth with what I hoped conveyed a sense of more cheery New Year’s Day vigour than I felt at that particular moment (given both the temperature around us and the fact that due to misjudging the car parking vs beach entry point we were in for a ‘bit of a walk’ back to anything which resembled heating). And ignored the slight judginess that came with the phrase they’d just shared.
True, it might be slightly at odds to submerge yourself in near freezing water when you could have joined the masses on ‘a perfectly good walk’ to get you out in the fresh air and keep healthy, without the risk of pneumonia or (worse still) ‘hat hair’ for the rest of the day. And there was nothing particularly accomplished about our trip to the beach: no fitness records broken, no significant calories burnt (I did mention it was a ‘dip’ didn’t I??). But who’s to say with the many health benefits cold water swimming gives, that my version isn’t better for you? I just have a different view of what’s fun…
And it’s the same in any business to a degree. You need to have different points of view to see the options available to you: diverse perspectives and experiences which don’t mirror your own.
Over the past few years, it’s become clear that a key way to accelerate your business performance is to become more diverse and inclusive. Gartner found that the difference in performance between diverse teams was 12% more positive than non-diverse teams and Fast Company reported that those companies with higher gender diversity and engagement experience up to 48 – 56% stronger financial performance than others.
Yet ‘Diversity’ as a word in my experience has tended to anaesthetise or polarise many in SMEs. Either they zone out on the basis that it’s not something they need to concern themselves about (I’m not sexist/ racist/ ageist/ ableist so we’re doing good, right?), they associate it with something that only ‘big’ companies’ need to get their head around or that it’s just too hard.
And I understand that to a degree. Because taking action on diversity and inclusivity isn’t passive and takes energy. Energy to sit and listen to other’s experiences who do not mirror your own view of the world, a growth mindset that is open to the fact that there is more you can learn on a regular basis and then take action to change what needs to. And who has any energy left after such a bumper year?!
But with increased data on the impact of diversity (from the positive it brings to the negative when it’s not present) and key world events such as the killing of George Floyd sparking candid conversations in the workplace, it’s not something anyone can ignore.
And there are many things you can do whether your team is made up of 5 or 500 people.
- Re-think your strategy and be as intentional with planning diversity & inclusion as you are with planning out your sales.
It all starts at the beginning… So get real in your advertising and think about the words you are using to describe the candidates you are looking for. Make sure any job adverts are inclusive by checking for the sentiment they convey and don’t include a wish list which doesn’t actually describe what you are looking for. Is it really essential that this person has over ten years experience in a specific type of environment at a senior level? Because if it is, then you might have unwittingly just ruled out anyone who’s ever had a career break. Surely you want someone who’s delivered the best results and in which case, change your criteria (and your questions later).
Shortlist a blend of candidates: The next time you go to hire, ask the person helping you with your hiring to provide a representative group of candidates in the mix. It’ll be tough in some industries, but challenge yourself (and them) to do so.
Highlight the unconscious bias that sits in all of us: Make everyone who is interviewing candidates watch at least 3 of the videos in Facebook’s series of unconscious bias training. They take about 15 minutes each, can be watched over lunch and I guarantee will have people thinking more about their own unconscious biases and the impact of them. This isn’t a male or female ‘thing’. We’re all in this one together.
Promote those people who are underrepresented in your business. And I don’t mean promote them to a new role all the time. But promote and recognise their accomplishments, encourage them to showcase their work internally and externally and act as a champion for them.
Find role models to mentor these team members: if you can’t find any internal mentors then provide external help or encourage them to join networking groups in your industry where they can find support.
Offer greater flexibility. More so than ever people have opened up to the idea of flexible working, historically something which has helped women progress their careers.
It really does take all sorts to build a business. Well, a successful one at least.
If you want to chat about how you can encourage diversity & inclusivity in your team, then drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 627 7048
Do I need to wait until the end of the probation period to dismiss? What if I’m not quite sure about an employee by the time I get to the end of their probation period? Should I extend? All are questions we at the The HR hub are asked quite regularly as people struggle to work out what to do when someone they’ve hired isn’t quite the wunder-hire they’d hoped…..
First some basics on about being ‘on probation’: probation periods are not guided by employment law per se, but instead are a contractual arrangement between your business and their employees. Typically they will be used to set expectations that during the initial period of employment – normally 3 to 6 months – and sometimes are extended to cover a further period if a relationship has not been cemented or performance standards are not met.
Essentially however, yes, you can dismiss an employee before the end of their probation period if you feel things are not working out. But there are a few things you need to be mindful of and it’s not just a simple as saying ‘bye bye’ one morning. You need to give them the correct notice period and, as with any other dismissal of any other employee, it should be for a fair reason, including conduct, capability, breach of statutory provision, redundancy or some other substantial reason (nb – we find that most situations fall into performance during this period however, where the employee hasn’t demonstrated to the employer that they’ve met the standards needed).
BUT. Before you have that conversation, take a minute to think whether that you have really done all you can to make sure the environment is right for their success in this regard. After all that time and money spent on hiring that person, have you spent at least the same again investing in making sure that the newbie understands what’s expected, held their hands a little (at the very least) and given them the support they need to make a success of their role? Often people think they have but then often this is not the case… So I ask again: Have you really done all you can to make sure they had the chance to succeed? Were you clear about what was expected? Did you give them regular feedback on how they were doing and offer them the chance to address any areas which weren’t sitting well? Was there anyone even around to provide regular support to them? If you can’t answer these as honest ‘Yes’es, then I would suggest that you look at giving them one final chance.
According to past research from Spring Personnel, 20 percent of employees fail to pass their probation period in a new role or have it extended, so if you did go down this route you would be in good company.
Thinking of extending their probation instead? You should always make sure that this provision is written into their contract in the first instance. If not, then although there is nothing stopping you from extending the period and making that clear to the individual, you could be liable to pay them the full notice period laid out in the contract for post-probation should you subsequently dismiss during the extended probation period. As an aside, we also wouldn’t recommend extending their probation for any further than an additional three months: an extended period will impact on their engagement for one and for another, after 6 months in post, you should be able to make a decision one way or another.
Probation periods can be a challenging time for both employee and employer and if you want to find out more about how you’re getting the best out of your team through this time and beyond, drop us a line at email@example.com or call 0203 627 7048 for your no-obligation chat.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
#probation #ticktock #lightthespark #employeemagic #development
We all know that recruiting great talent is one of the top priorities for most businesses. And we all know that it’s bl**dy difficult to do so (amount of people I’ve ever heard saying in my entire career “ I can’t move for quality candidates”? = zero…). And whilst the buzz that you can get when you finally find the right candidate can be highly energising & worth the wait, even the most experienced business owner or recruiter can feel like getting to that point can be a hard slog when the wind isn’t going in your direction ….
If this is chiming a chord with you, then you need to get out of the rut, step back, re-group, and take a fresh look at what else you could be looking at doing to attract people. Strengthening your branding, positioning and process will certainly come into play and influence your hiring on longer term basis, however if it’s a quicker boost you’re after, then nothing beats getting out there and going on the hunt for talent yourself. To help energise your efforts, we’ve spoken to our own network of gurus from The HR Hub who shared some of their favourite ways to kickstart things:
- Use social media in the way it was intended: Taking a peak at people’s professional profiles on LinkedIn is definitely recommended & not to be confused with stalking someone all over Facebook ….. You can pay right up to a Recruiter seat on the site costing £££s per year, however even as a basic entry level user, you can type in job titles or industries in the search field and a list of those people in your immediate network with those criteria will appear for you to click on. If you see someone’s profile who interests you and who you have in common, then ask for an introduction or use the direct messaging to find out if they’re interested in speaking further. Candidates are always more likely to respond if you are contacting them directly about a role in your business and find this approach more flattering than a spamming/ cookie-cutter approach adopted by some less selective agents, so don’t be shy & get connected!
- Be open to talent in unusual places: One of my favourite recent hiring stories is a long time client of ours who hired someone into their business after they were served by them in a chicken restaurant. The server in question demonstrated such fabulous customer service towards my client that they struck up a conversation and ultimately a few weeks later, the server became her new sales & marketing assistant. It might not work for all roles, however bear in mind that most people have transferable skills and one of the most sought after traits people are after in hew hires is a great attitude!
- Tap into your (existing) network: Employees first. I almost left this one off the list as I figured it’s such a common channel for people to use when hiring, but then thought again as it’s value is so important that it’s still worth a gentle reminder for those who still haven’t tried it….. However if you’re not asking your existing team if they know of anyone who might want to come and work for you, then you should do this straight away (& then remember to keep asking on a regular basis to keep it front of mind). Financial incentives can work well in this area and provide a tidy little bonus for those who successfully refer someone they know (one of my former companies paid up to £5k per successful referral which was still less than the average recruiter fee for their industry) but you don’t always need to stretch the budget that far as many will be simply happy to refer people they want to work with. If you are going to provide an incentive for employee referrals however, then make sure it’s clear, consistently applied and isn’t over complicated.
- Tap into your (existing wider) network: Referrals from employees are one thing, but a less utilised route is to make your wider network of suppliers, clients and partners aware that you’re hiring and what roles you have. Asking people directly might not feel like the comfortable thing to do in some cases, however adding a note to your footer of your emails or doing a few posts on social media to say you are hiring can be just the jogger they may need to drop “I might know just the person…”. into conversation when you next speak.
- Get objective about your adverts: I was introduced recently by a client to a wonderful site called Textio, the augmented writing site which demonstrates how your words (in this case , job adverts) will be perceived by others. It’s brilliant in terms of showcasing which words are more persuasive than others as well as highlighting the gender attractiveness of different words and phrases used and is well worth the time plugging your own job ads into their free trial to see how yours can be improved.
- Keep track of the numbers: this doesn’t need to be complicated, but in order to track how effective your recruitment activities and processes are (and at each stage), then you need to start measuring them to see which parts need re-visiting and addressing. If you’re using an Applicant Tracking System then many will have these built in, but if not, then set up your own spreadsheet with the ones most important to your business and build out from there. Ones I’ve used in the past include: number of applicants at each stage, time to hire , cost per hire and quality of hire.
- Outsource it: (I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention here….) But if you value your time over spending a little bit of cash or don’t have the internal resources to focus on this area, then we have our own service we provide to many customers – one that has been developed from the experience of hiring hundreds of people over the last 15 years and which – for the want of a better name right now – I’m going to call Recruitment-in-a-box. We take the brief, recommend the media, write and place the advert right through to sifting and conducting first round interviews.
When it comes to channels, there’s never just ‘the one’ however. A lot of people still just stick to either agencies or advertising for any new hires. But by narrowing all channels to just one or two, you rarely see the results you want (and definitely not if you’re hiring for multiple roles). Here at theHRhub, we’ve used dozens of different ways to hire and are all in favour of multiple recruitment channels. But rarely at the same time and always varying the approach depending on the role. Would you woo a Managing Director for a contract worth millions in the same way you would get signups for your SaaS product? No, of course you wouldn’t. Same goes for finding the right people.
None of these on their own are silver bullets and the reality is that (as with any good sales process) you will need to apply these processes in a consistent way over a period of time to see really strong results. But a fresh perspective and a bit of analysis and tweaking can work wonders on kickstarting things again.
Need any extra help? TheHRhub helps ambitious business owners hire, manage and grow their teams in a direct and pragmatic way. Find out more about us here at www.thehrhub.co.uk or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 627 7048 to chat about how we can help.
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 email@example.com 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.
Recently published research by the Resolution Foundation shows a boom in the use of agency workers by businesses looking to fill their skills gap, and the findings suggest that it’s a pattern that’s set to continue. Almost half (43%) of respondents said that they’d increased their reliance on agency staff during the past five years, and 25% planned to increase their usage even further in the next five years.
It’s thought that the trend is being fuelled by uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and of course the cost pressures that plenty of businesses are facing on a daily basis. Today, it’s estimated that there are around 800,000 agency workers in roles all across the UK.
So if you’re looking to expand your team during 2018, you might want to take a little step back and consider whether working with an agency could be the solution that gives you exactly what you need. Recruiting and selecting the right people is a tricky process, and it can place a real strain on your resources. Outsourcing to the experts is an option that clearly appeals to many.
There is a very important issue at play here though, that plagues the reputation of businesses looking to tap into more flexible ways of finding and working with talent. The gig economy and all the pitfalls associated with it is constantly being debated in the media, and it’s clear that not all business owners are giving proper consideration to workers’ rights. There’s a clear crossover here between issues associated with the gig economy and the use of agency workers, and employers absolutely must proceed with a reasonable level of caution.
The Resolution Foundation offered some practical suggestions for ethically leveraging agency talent, at both a business and government level. The Swedish Derogation, for example, is a controversial piece of regulation that the Foundation would like to see removed. It permits businesses to pay agency workers less than directly comparable employees, and a repeal is currently under consultation, in response to the Taylor Review.
What happens from this point onwards will definitely be interesting from an employment perspective. The pressure on the government is mounting when it comes to workers’ rights, whilst businesses still face cuts and need to look towards less conventional ways of hitting their goals and meeting operational requirements.
If you’re planning to use agency workers, what steps will you be taking to protect your employer brand and maintain a happy and productive workplace?
TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing expert advice and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket – but without the price tag!
Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.
A resignation – like being dumped – can often feel very personal. Particularly if the person in question has been with you for some time. Particularly if you think they are critical to your business. And particularly if you let it.
I mean, it’s sod’s law isn’t it? Just when you think everything is teed up to have a great 2018: Goals in place? Tick. Marketing lined up? Tick. Sales Pipeline trending the right way? Tick. – when someone pops their head around the door clutching an envelope and utters a few words in ‘that’ tone …”er, can we have a quick chat?’. And it’s the ones who are the most valuable to you which always hit you hardest.
Of course, not every resignation is bad news. If you are planning on going through a restructure or making redundancies and the person in question was going to be affected, then you may have just saved yourself a bit of heartache ( not to mention a few quid). But most are not wanted, downright annoying and expensive too.
With an average employee in the professional sector costing up to £30k to replace , the best way to ensure that you handle this well, is to prioritise keeping your team as you would your clients. And plan for it by doing some of the following:
- At budgeting time, include staff turnover in your forecasting figures and set targets for turnover. The UK average is approximately 15% but this rises to closer to 20% in the digital sectors. You do need to keep new ideas flowing within the business and adapt to your changing model, so not all turnover is bad and it’s likely that you will want to see some movement to avoid becoming complacent, but set targets for this which you can check progress against. It’ll be less of a surprise.
- Identify your ‘keepers’. The people which, if you lost, you would be stuffed. And then plan how you are going to to show them the love. To support them in what they want out of the business. Too many business leaders don’t take the time to speak to their teams on a 1-2-1 regular basis to uncover what it is that their people want and show support by their actions. Oh, for the times when I’ve seen an account manager hauled over the coals after a devastating client loss. “When did you last meet with them?” is often one of the first things their manager will ask after the bombshell has been dropped.” How did they seem? Were they unhappy? Did they say anything which gave you a clue?….”
- Take the time to get to know your team. To know what they want out of life on a wider level than just what they are doing at work. I know it’ll come as a shock to many, but most people don’t simply dream of doing better at work! So find out what possibilities lie for people within the confines of the business and how they can help them get to where they want to be.
And I’m not saying it’s easy by any stretch. It’s a hell of a commitment to meet with your team each week/ fortnight/ build a relationship/ keep it going through the good and the tough times. But people are less likely to leave a place where they feel valued and listened to than anywhere else. And even if you can’t keep them, the chances are that they will feel more comfortable giving you a heads up that they may be off, allowing you a bit more time to plan and handover.
But back to that resignation. In practical and immediate terms, you have a few options:
- You can take it very personally, considering it a personal slight that someone would not want to work from you and act out in that manner. One boss I know didn’t speak to their team member for their ENTIRE notice period, leaving him to work in an isolated office away from the rest of the business such was the disgust they felt at their team member leaving them. Their maturity wasn’t lost on the entire company…
- Or ( a popular option) you can launch into telling them all the reasons why this is all wrong for them and that if they stayed for another £5/ £15k/ £25k then you will be able to fix whatever it is they are concerned about. One business I know spent more money on retention bonuses for those who had resigned in a particular year than they did on the entire bonus pot for existing employees who had delivered for them that year. The‘retained’ employees in this instance lasted on average another 3-6 months before bailing out for real, leaving a red faced boss and disgruntled colleagues who had found out all about the separate arrangement…
- Or you can listen to what they are saying. And then really listen. And learn from it. On the odd occasion I have seen someone ‘bought back’ by their business when they’ve resigned, it’s been because the relationship and loyalty was there already, they’d just let things get stale. The drama of resigning was enough to wake both parties up to see that there were other ways for the team member to grow and they’re very happy.
Option 3 doesn’t always mean they stay and you may well still have to say goodbye to someone you would rather not. But at least by taking the time out to find out what is really going on, you will truly understand why your business is not right for the person standing in front of you. But why it may be for another time. Ah yes, Boomerang employees. Now there’s another post….