Providing feedback isn’t just for the candidate’s benefit – it can help you and your business as well. The important thing is to provide the feedback in a positive way that doesn’t expose your business to any risks.
Almost every employer I meet wants to be a ‘good’ employer. In this day and age, there are very few Scrooges around, but at Xmas time there is a balance to be had between the needs of the business and the needs and wants of the employees. Getting this balance right is not written in law, there is often no right and wrong and there is certainly no golden formula.
I am going to raise more questions than I answer here because there is no one size fits allsolution. You know your business and what it needs, how you deliver that is based on your policies, procedures, staff, culture, business needs and attitude to risk.
The overriding element to consider is not putting your business at risk. The risk of discrimination, the risk of a vicarious liability claim or even corporate manslaughter! Your contract of employment and employee handbook (if you have one) should be your guide to some extent; the rules still apply and are not thrown out the window just because it’s Christmas.
This can be a contentious issue as many staff will want leave around the same time. How you manage this will depend on a number of elements:
Are you closing the office over the festive period?
If so, make sure you communicate this well in advance
Tell staff whether this is in addition to, or part of their annual leave entitlement
Do you need business to continue as normal, perhaps because you are a 24/7 operation?
Set the rules, communicate them and then apply them consistently across the business
Consider people’s religious needs and their right to family life
Look at what the business actually needs and the service levels expected by your customers
If you have people of different faiths working in the business, some may be quite happy to work over the Christmas period but would like time off around their own religious holidays
If you need staff to work Christmas Day, Boxing Day, on the 27th December (which this year is a substitute day) and on New Year’s Day and 2nd January (again a substitute day), consider asking people to work in rotas so that they do not have to work on all of the public / bank holidays.
If you have people of no faith, they must not lose out on holiday entitlement when extra holiday is given on Religious grounds
Part-timers are only entitled to a pro rata amount of time off and should not be given a disproportionate amount of extra time off, otherwise, it is your full-time employees who have a potential claim
What does your annual leave policy say about notice of leave, booking and authorisation of holidays, carry forward of accrued holiday and working on bank holidays
Do you need an on-call rota?
If you decide to shut the office, do you still need cover and who will provide that cover?
Can they do so from home?
Will you require them to be sober at all times and able to jump into a car and get to the office in less than an hour?
Will you pay staff for being on call, or only if they are actually called on to work?
What about people who are happy to work but who can’t because the office is closed and who are therefore forced to use annual leave?
Ask yourself the questions, decide on the answers, communicate them and then apply them consistently. If in doubt, get some advice, you need to tell your staff what you want and not the other way round.
Most companies still hold some form of Christmas lunch, dinner or party, although fewer and fewer are spending thousands on them like they were 10 – 15 years ago. Key considerations are:
Alcohol vs no alcohol
Most companies will allow staff to drink alcohol at Christmas events whereas they may not allow staff to drink alcohol (at work) at other times
If drinking at lunchtime, is the business going to close in the afternoon or will staff be going back to work under the influence? For some businesses, this may not be an issue, but if you employ staff who drive vehicles, operate heavy machinery or are in highly pressurised environments, you need to plan for the disruption to operations
Even if your party is in an evening, will staff be expected to work the next day and what are the penalties for those who call in sick as a result of too much alcohol the night before
There is an increasing number of people who do not drink for health or religious reasons, how are these members of staff treated and provided for?
Venue and transport home
Employers do have a responsibility to ensure that staff are able to get home safely. In some cases, coaches are laid on and in some cases discounted hotel rooms are reserved or taxi cabs booked
The venue needs to be appropriate for all staff and food options need to be able to cater for all requirements – religious, health and personal choice
Partners or no partners
Whether to invite partners or not is always contentious. I have worked with businesses where staff will not attend unless partners are invited and others who absolutely do not want partners ‘hanging around’. The decision on whether to invite partners will be based on the number of people within your business, your previous involvement with partners, the culture within the business and your venue / budget.
Again, be consistent. Either invite everyone to bring partners or nobody, don’t pick and choose.
Company paid / subsidised vs employee paid
This will almost always depend on your budget and there is no hard and fast rule.
There is a tax benefit for staff entertainment up to certain limits and some companies will pay for the party to enable them to fully utilise this benefit
For companies who allow partners, the employee is often company paid and the partner is employee paid
Penalties for bad behaviour
I recently heard a story where the senior partner of a City Accountancy firm with responsibility for staff ‘mooned’ on the coach on the way back from the Christmas party. His credibility was shot and he had to relinquish his HR remit.
I have also recently been dealing with a situation where the excesses of alcohol served at work resulted in employees sleeping together which then caused significant problems back in the workplace
At the end of the day, your employees are adults and need to be treated as such, but if they breach your code of conduct, bring your company into disrepute or act in a way which jeopardises your business, you need to take action – you still have a business to run in the new year!
People don’t need to be employees to take an employment tribunal claim against you (although they usually are, or have been). Job applicants who feel they have missed out on a job due to discrimination can also lodge an employment tribunal claim and therefore taking any special needs into consideration at the recruitment and interview stage is really important.
If you need any support with recruitment or interviewing, give us a ring or take a look at our Interviewer’s Toolkit.
They say Silence is Golden and this can certainly be the case during an interview process. This is a classic case of the 80:20 rule. The candidate should be doing 80% of the talking – at least during the first part of the interview (when it comes onto them asking you about the company, role etc. this is your chance to sell the business to them).
In today’s video Top Tip, I share the 10 of Diamonds – silence!
When you are carrying out an interview with a potential new employee, you need to make sure you ask the right questions. The right questions are ones which will enable you to get responses on which you can take a recruitment decision:
Can they do the job?
Will they fit in with the team?
Can they learn the skills they need, to perform at 110%
Will they be able to drive the business forward successfully?
You only get one chance to make a first impression and the way in which you deal with the applicant throughout the interview process will say a lot about you and the business.
If you decide to make an offer and the candidate has more than one offer – you want them to chose you and the better their experiences with you, the more comfortable your interactions and the more professional and organised you appear, the more likely you are to secure the applicant of your choice.
Never forget that recruitment is a two way process – they have to choose to apply and then choose to complete the application process and then choose to accept an offer!
Testing applicants is a great way of determining whether they can actually do the job you need them to do. You can test for skills, aptitude, personality etc. There are hundreds of tests on the market and selecting the right one is really important. You also need to ensure you know what a pass or fail looks like and why.
When you are recruiting, you could end up with hundreds of applications, once you have sorted the ‘not a chance’ from the ‘possible’, telephone interviewing is a great way of producing a manageable long list (or short list, if you are able to be that tight on your criteria).
Work out what your key questions are – if they MUST be able to drive, or MUST hold a specific qualification or MUST be able to work evenings, then these questions should form part of your telephone screening process.
Do make sure that you don’t inadvertently introduce any discrimination – you can ask any question, it is how you do it which matters!!!