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The Work Summer Do: Why You Need One And How To Get It Right

The Work Summer Do: Why You Need One And How To Get It Right

For many, Glastonbury weekend heralds the start of an increasingly busy summer calendar of live cultural and sporting events. And more and more businesses are capturing some of this magic for their employees by hosting their own summer ‘do’. 

Here, Matt Turner, founder and MD of Clownfish Events  explains how work summer parties can be the perfect antidote to employee stress and gives us some great event theme ideas to boot….. 

If work is stressing you and your team out at the moment, you’re not alone. Research shows that people in the UK work longer hours than anywhere else in Europe. Stress can be hugely detrimental to productivity and engagement, not to mention our wellbeing. Over 11 million days are lost at work every year because of stress, according to annual reports by the Health & Safety Executive. More significant to business owners is the £1.24bn cost to UK employers of these high levels of absenteeism.

Balance sheets aside, we all know about the powers of exercise and mindfulness for combating workplace stress; but one of the best (albeit rather underrated) antidotes is a well thought-out summer office party. Done right, it can recharge the batteries of the most jaded of employees, whilst boosting engagement and reinforcing cultural values at the same time.

The Rise & Rise Of The ‘Digital Detox’ Party

Given the contribution of smartphone addiction to stress levels, not to mention the current ‘always on’ culture, it’s unsurprising that Digital Detox parties are a huge trend at the moment, as employers opt for summer events that urge colleagues to re-connect face to face and share quality time away from their devices. 

They can be surprisingly cost effective too. Think fires-side alongs: a tipi, firepit, cosy blankets, toasted marshmallows and maybe an open mic for coworkers to show off their talents. There’s no need for expensive catering or fine wines, but you could include a discreet photographer, so no one is tempted to use their phones and post the action on social media!

And a digital detox event is suitable for all brands, regardless of their specific cultural values, because it makes the vital connection between respecting work/life balance and the impact of proper downtime on mental wellbeing. 

But if a detox isn’t needed for your team, and you’d like something more bespoke to your business, here are four more cost-effective options that can be used to convey specific brand values and create a consistent cultural experience that boosts employee engagement levels…

Creative Summer Party Themes That Reflect Specific Brand Values

  • White Party – stylish, sophisticated and achingly cool. 

This theme is ideal for luxury brands and high-end professional services companies that might also want to celebrate their organisation’s emphasis on promoting diversity and a cosmopolitan culture. 

Think Mediterranean islands, white furniture and ambient lighting to recreate an exclusive holiday hotspot. Add a dance floor, DJ, chill out zone and plenty of entertainment for an event worthy of an A-list beach club.

Brand values: passion, attention to detail, diversity, dare to be different, simplicity, style

  • Traditional English Fair – heritage, tradition, under-stated style and practicality. 

This theme is great for brands that want to emphasise their British provenance as a sign of quality – like custom manufacturers, food and drink producers and ethical brands. 

Choosing a garden party theme with traditional accents like deckchairs, bunting, fairground rides and side stalls (with some Pimm’s and strawberries thrown in!) is a great way to celebrate the summer, keeping costs down but still delivering an event that is unique and memorable. 

Brand values: community, fun, quirky, sustainable, heritage, traditional. 

  • Sporting Fun – competitive, team spirited, entrepreneurial and spontaneous. 

This theme is the perfect choice for challenger brands, start-ups and dynamic/fast moving industries where risk-taking is the norm. 

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup this year and increasing numbers of companies wanting to promote health and wellness amongst employees, sporting challenges are likely be very popular this summer.

Brand values: excellence, growth orientated, teamwork, courage, commitment

  • Boho Festival – glamorous and fun; a good fit for international brands looking to emphasise the importance of ‘down time’ and adventure. 

If your employees are longing to be back at Glasto, why not bring the Pyramid Stage to them with music, hay bales and street food vendors.

Brand values: innovation, distinctive, creative, open-minded, sustainability

Summer Parties Are Quickly Overtaking Christmas Dos As The Must Have Annual Event

Whereas a Christmas party is often fairly traditional, summer events can be much better at conveying an employer’s brand values and reinforcing its personality. This is important for everyone but especially for millennials, who tend to value personal experiences, their employer’s values and a sense of feeling appreciated over material rewards. 

Furthermore, they are flexible to organise, cost effective and a greater return on investment in terms of improving productivity. So why not take inspiration from Glastonbury, The FIFA Women’s World Cup or simply your local village fete and make your work summer party a legendary fixture in the event calendar for your team… 

Author

Matt Turner is the founder and MD of Clownfish Events. He started his first business aged 13, DJ-ing at community discos, and now runs themed events, team building and parties for some of the UK’s best known brands and business owners.

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Team Need A Jump Start? Your 90 day plan to get the spark back.

Team Need A Jump Start? Your 90 day plan to get the spark back.

More than any month, June is often the time when employees run out of battery. The excitement and momentum from the first quarter has begun to wane and summer holidays seem a long way off. Staff are the engine room of any business, and when their spirit starts to tire, employee engagement and well-being are at risk, not to mention business efficiency and effectiveness. If you think this is even a potential issue in your organisation you need to take action now….

The single best way to jump start your team is good, old fashioned TLC. Happily for SME leaders, you are the exactly right people to give it – all it takes it some thought and a little bit of time.

Here’s how to give the team the boost they’ll need to keep going ’til the year end: 

  1. Remind the team of the Vision: You know the one I mean. ‘Why’ you are all here in the first place. ‘Why’ it’s important to them that you hit those goals. ‘Why’ the company is in existence. Without this connection to the purpose, they could be working for anyone….
  2. Spend time giving a little feedback: It’s one of the best (and cheapest) ways to help someone grow. Raise their self awareness by praising the things they have done a great job on.
  3. Listen to what the team have got to say: They may seem tired, grumpy, lazy or any other seven dwarves, but you can bet they’ll be feeling motivated after some time spent with their leader and the given the opportunity to have their say.
  4. Hold a 30-day Check-in: Meet with all the team, communicate what progress has been made and what a difference this has made.
  5. Allow trust to flourish & go easy on the micromanagement: It’s tempting when things aren’t going as we like to jump in and start holding meetings every day to see how you’ve progressed, but If you set out clearly what you are looking for your team to deliver, give them support to do so, then allow them some breathing space to do just that, without their diaries being clogged up by meetings and their autonomy jeopardised.
  6. Add a little extra incentive: We’ve all read that the evidence for complex bonus structures and remuneration packages driving motivation is lacking (even decreasing it in certain areas..). However incentives which are offered for a simple, easy to understand and achievable task are a different kettle of fish all together. So offer a meal out, front row tickets to the Donmar or whatever floats the particular boat of your team to get them focussed on a short term competition.
  7. Hold a 60-day Check-In: Reward any progress which has been made (publicly and privately) to reinforce the behaviour you want to see.
  8. Wheel in your best client : Have one of your customers/ clients come in to talk to the team about what a difference your product/ service has made to their business. Get’s straight to the point of ‘Why’ they’re here and helps instil a sense of pride.
  9. Give them a break: It doesn’t have to be an expenses trip to Dubai; but a Friday afternoon/ early evening jaunt to somewhere local to get a bit of downtime will be something to look forward to for all.
  10. Cut yourself some slack: With all this focus on other’s it’s easy to forgo the progress you have made, so re-visit where you were this time last year and give yourself a pat on the back.

TheHRhub is a complete HR support solution for SMEs. We provide operational and strategic HR expertise in-house, ad hoc or online. Give us a call on 0203 627 7048 for a no strings discussion about your business needs or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk. 

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Mental Health Week Special: The Stepping Stones To Becoming A More Mindful SME

Mental Health Week Special: The Stepping Stones To Becoming A More Mindful SME

Now in it’s 19th year, Mental Health Awareness Week always begins on the second Monday in May. In 2019, it takes place between 13th and 19th May.

In a world that is increasingly opening up to – and understanding those with – mental health issues, it’s no surprise that Mental Health Awareness Week is attracting more and more attention in both the media and business worlds year on year.

Whilst I am a great supporter of anything that raises people’s awareness to mental health issues in the workplace, it takes more than just one week in the year to adequately support your employees’ mental health.

Right now, 1 in 6 workers is dealing with a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress. Clearly, this can stop people from performing at their best.

Organisations perform better when their staff are healthy, motivated and focused. Smart businesses support employees who are experiencing mental health problems to cope and recover. The support people receive from employers is key in determining how well and how quickly they are able to get back to peak performance.

Here are 10 simple steps SMEs can take to make a real difference to their teams’ mental health, all year round:

1. Create a culture that supports staff to be open about their mental health: Send a clear signal to staff that their mental health matters and that being open about it will lead to support, not discrimination. Work with your employees and managers to break down the stigma related to mental health.

2. Ensure your sickness absence and return to work policies apply to mental as well as physical health problems: Policies should make it clear that people must be treated equally whatever their health problem. Make sure this is communicated effectively so everyone in the business is aware.

3. Train managers in how to support their team through mental health problems: You can’t just ‘expect’ them to feel comfortable dealing with issues that have previously been considered taboo. Giving them the tools, confidence and support to engage in the right conversations is key to supporting employees properly.

4. Open up the discourse on mental health: It’s vital managers routinely ask staff how they’re doing and reference their mental health – it helps build up people’s confidence to speak up earlier on and get the help they need sooner.

5. Fully support anyone who discloses a mental health problem: Once you’ve opened up the dialogue on mental health with someone, the priority is to develop positive steps to address the key issues they’re struggling with. Generally, these steps are small and involve simple adjustments to someone’s job role or extra support from their manager. Often the necessary change is one of attitude, expectations or communication – rather than a major change or significant cost.

6. Develop proactive action plans that work for both the individual and the business: Support managers to work together with their team members to develop a personal action plan to proactively manage their mental health. This allows people to plan in advance and develop tailored support for a time when they’re not coping so well. It also facilitates open dialogue with managers – leading to practical, agreed steps which can form the basis for regular monitoring and review.

7. Be flexible and open minded to simple changes: When people feel under pressure they can find it hard to prioritise their workload. Flexible working hours and increased one-to-one supervision can help people better manage their time and plan and prioritise. Some find a regular surgery-style trouble-shooting session with their manager helpful, where managers can go through the person’s to-do-list with them to coach them on how to approach challenging tasks. Often this acts as a useful pressure valve to help people regain confidence and cope with challenges.

8. Manage an employee’s time off sick effectively: Sometimes an employee may be so unwell they need time off work to recover. The way organisations manage a period of sickness absence is key in shaping how well and how quickly people are able to return to work and get back to peak performance.

9. Prepare for an employee’s return to work: When people are ready to return to work managers should arrange to meet up in a neutral comfortable venue to catch up and discuss the details of their return together. An effective return-to-work interview is vital to build trust and engagement with the employee and support their smooth and sustainable return to work.

  • take a person centred approach and be sensitive to the individual’s needs
  • be proactive and get involved as early as possible if someone is unwell
  • be positive, professional and supportive throughout the process
  • maintain contact with people throughout their sickness absence.

10. Engage with a provider who can support you through the challenges: It’s always reassuring to know that you don’t need to have all the answers yourself.  HR consultants (such as TheHRHub) have a wealth of experience in supporting managers and employees through all kinds of mental health challenges.  It’s worth having someone on your side for support, should you need it.

For help and advice on any HR issue, get in touch for a no strings discussion about your business needs and how we can help. Drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or give us a call on 0203 627 7048.

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Managing (Not Avoiding) Conflict In An SME

Managing (Not Avoiding) Conflict In An SME

Let’s face it, most of us avoid conflict if we can. It makes everyone feel uncomfortable and it’s not particularly productive. But even if you’re the most placid business owner in the world, inevitably there will be occasions when arguments between colleagues break out and insults are traded.

This can particularly be the case in an SME where the environment is much more intimate and intense. If you don’t manage conflict carefully it can quickly escalate, creating a toxic working atmosphere and worse still, potentially damaging your business reputation.  

The Confederation of British Industry estimates that ‘conflict’ costs UK businesses £33 billion per year, taking up 20% of leadership time and potentially losing up to 370 million working days.

However many books you’ve read about ‘managing difference’, it is tough to navigate strong personalities or working style clashes.

But Ignore Conflict At Your Peril

One of the most common (and most damaging) approaches we tend to see is simply ignoring conflict/issues in the hope that it will just go away or resolve itself. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, it will, but more often than not, issues left unacknowledged will fester, then escalate and ultimately may end up being a bigger problem than it ever should have become. When it comes to conflict, ignorance is most definitely not bliss.

Now, that’s not to say you need to jump in and resolve every single difference of opinion or challenging conversation that takes place in the office, but if you’ve noticed a potential problem brewing, then it’s safe to assume the rest of the team have too; and they will be looking to you (or your management team) to step in and resolve things.  

Sometimes All That’s Needed Is A Frank Conversation

More often than not, initiating a conversation and facilitating both parties being heard can be enough to cool the heat and allow people to get back to what they are meant to be focussing on!  

If Conflict Remains An Issue Here’s What To Do:

  1. Set the tone –‘The culture of any organisation is shaped by the worst behaviour the leader is willing to tolerate’ – Gruenter & Whitaker.  People tend to follow the example set by the most senior members of the business, make sure you and your management team are role modelling the behaviour you want to see in others.
  2. Create a culture of trust, respect and honest conversations –  no one wants to work in a company where their opinion isn’t heard. Most people enjoy a healthy debate on how to get things done. If the culture of your business is one where people can engage in these types of conversations, disagree respectfully (i.e. without name calling, abuse or aggression) and then go about their day, you’re onto a winner for limiting the amount of damaging conflict you’ll need to be managing.
  3. Listen to your staff – ask questions to find out the underlying issues. It may be that there is a difference in value or even a simple misunderstanding.  Don’t assume that you know the problem without asking, as this can often make matters worse! It may be worth getting someone impartial (like TheHRHub) to either handle the situation or at least be present throughout any discussions.
  4. Train your managersthey are on the front line when it comes to witnessing and resolving conflict within teams. Giving them the confidence, skills and training to deal with these issues as they arise will hopefully stop smaller issues escalating into time consuming and painful ones.
  5. Have a clear policy on how you intend to manage conflict at work – for when things just can’t be managed informally, you need to have a clear and consistent approach communicated that outlines how the company will manage conflict. This doesn’t need to be “War & Peace”, just a section in the handbook or a one pager outlining a process you will follow, should an issue get to that stage.

At TheHRHub, we are experts in navigating SME’s through the difficulties of managing conflict.  Our pragmatic, personable but legally minded approach allows us to help you put a quick end to issues that have the potential to bubble away for a longer time, or even explode into something much harder to resolve.

We can offer you advice, draw up handbooks and policies to help manage future situations, deliver management training or even mediate conflict for you (although we do like to encourage our clients to take responsibility for solving their own problems, it makes for stronger leaders in the future).

Why not give us a call to see how we can help you make your business better. Drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048 for a no strings discussion about your business needs.

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The Secret To Achieving Your Goals? Building Healthy Habits….

The Secret To Achieving Your Goals? Building Healthy Habits….

You know what? I’m really not a fan of the ‘new year, new me’ mantra that gets rammed down our throats from 1st January onwards. I’m also not keen on putting unrealistic pressure on myself to change who I am just because the year has clocked up another digit. But I do understand why people use January as a fresh start. A new year has an irresistible draw, it somehow allows us to wipe clean the mistakes of the past and commit to reinventing ourselves and finally achieving those #lifegoals we have secretly yearned to brag about on Facebook and Instagram.

As an experienced life coach (as well as an HR consultant), I specialise in helping people make positive changes in their lives – at any time of year.  Here’s my take on how you and/or your team can really achieve a goal (or two!) that will make a positive difference to your business as well as yourselves.

Forget Starting With The Big Life Goal

It’s way too intimidating. Just starting this process is the scariest part for most people and it’s usually because we begin by imagining a great, lofty goal, such as losing a stone or running a marathon. The gap from where we are now, to where we want to be seems insurmountable. So we shove another leftover Quality Street in our mouth and pretend we’re doing ourselves a favour by clearing out the treat cupboard and removing future temptations (yeah, we’ve all been there).

Focus On Daily Habits Instead

“Habits are the architecture that help us to achieve our goals”

One of my all time favourite quotes. So how about, instead of focusing on the massive goal, focus on the daily habits that will help you work towards that bigger achievement.

These mini goals can then build upon each other and be focused on either individually or as a small group….eat one extra portion of green veg each day, go for a brisk walk 3 times a week, cutting back on the sugar in your tea… Try one of these for a few weeks, nail it and then add a new one when it becomes second nature (or habit!).  Suddenly that big #lifegoal doesn’t seem so scary and unachievable does it?

It Might Take More Time But The Benefits Of Habitual Change Will Last A Lifetime

Ok, so you might not get where you want to be by the end of January but c’mon, how many times have you quit all your good intentions by then anyway because actually, running 6 times a week whilst cutting out all sugar and getting up at 5am to do yoga isn’t actually that much fun after all?! A slower pace with a more concentrated effort stands a much better chance of making new habits stick.

The Right Coach Can Make All The Difference

Building a set of healthy habits is not as complex as you might believe, it just takes a bit of time, focus, support and the right set of questions, ideally from a kick ass coach who will challenge your comfort zone and push you to take responsibility for yourself.

Now I appreciate that we don’t all have the money to invest in a personal life coach and it’s really bloody hard to motivate yourself to make healthy changes when you don’t really know where to start. There are a million contradictory articles online and a building pressure from social media to be amazing every day (it’s enough to make you quit life and go live in the jungle somewhere isn’t it?!) but I have a suggestion for you that might be more realistic…

Invest In ‘The Building Healthy Habits Workshop’ From TheHRHub

Convince your employer (or budget for it yourself if you’re responsible for employee wellbeing) to get the team at TheHRHub in to run our fabulous ‘Building Healthy Habits’ workshop and reap the benefits of a healthier, happier, more productive team. We use classic performance coaching techniques to help you (or your team) break down your goals and commit to the healthy habit changes that I guarantee will help you all move towards where you want to be in 2019.

Drop us a line hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048 to find out more…

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What is my company culture? And how on earth do I manage it?

What is my company culture? And how on earth do I manage it?

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?

 

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