HR Policy

Don’t commute and use your phone

05 Sep
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, HR Policy, Policies and Procedures, work life balance   |  No Comments

I do think that people now are more aware of how they use their phones while driving – it is illegal to do so – but how aware are people of how they use their phones on a public transport commute?

I had a lovely chat with Roberto Perrone on the BBC 3 Counties Drive Time Show last week discussing the findings of a study carried out by the University of the West of England for the Royal Geographic Society (BBC Report).

My first thought is about defining who we are talking about, because I am fairly sure we are not talking about all commuters. I suspect that the main focus is office workers and managers of other organisations. I don’t think retails staff or factory workers, nurses or emergency response workers will be checking their emails (but please correct me if I am wrong).

The main gist of the article was a question: Should time spent on emails during a commute be considered to be working time?

My next thought was: Does it matter?

Most office staff are not hourly paid and many do not receive overtime for getting their day job done. Therefore if they are spending an extra hour a day clearing emails on their phone, does it matter?

Choice and Control

I think in reality this comes down to whether the employee is required to check their emails or whether they chose to. If they are required to check and respond to their emails on a regular basis then this is different from someone choosing to manage their time, workload and home / work balance in this way.

If someone is required to check their emails, perhaps because they are on call, perhaps because they are waiting for time critical information, then in many cases their job description will reflect this and they should be remunerated accordingly.

If someone choses to leave the office at 5 and finish off their day on their commute home, thus enabling them to reach home at a reasonable time, then this is a personal choice which can be empowering and lead to greater efficiency. Some people only check emails two or three times a day to ensure that they are able to operate at optimum levels without interruptions and deliver what they plan to deliver within each day.

Overload

It is very rare that an employer will tell an employee they must work in the evenings or respond to emails 18 hours a day. It is far more likely that employees adopt these behaviours to enable them to cope with excessive volumes of emails, or to ensure that they are able to stay on top of their workload. Learning to take control of your inbox before it takes control of you is absolutely essential to ensure that you are able to deliver as required. However, there are times when the sheer volume of emails is just too much and the amount of work required from you is just not achievable even if you were to work 24 hours a day.

This is when an employee needs to have a tough conversation with the boss. This is not an emotional outburst, but a considered discussion around volume, expectations, standards deliverables and support.

Overheard

I have lost count of the number of times I have overheard highly confidential conversations on a train. Although these are often between two people sat together, more often than not it is a phone conversation. Discussing the outcome of a meeting, the prospects of a deal or the firing of an employee. People not only need to be aware of the time spent on emails on a phone during a commute, but they also need to be very conscious of the content of their work related conversations in public places.

Management Responsibility

As an employer or manager, you have a duty of care to your staff. This means ensuring that they are not put under excessive stress at work, that the job is reasonable and achievable in the time available. While there may be an occasional need to work from home in the evenings responding to emails or clear down emails on a commute to work, this should not be the norm and if it is, the roles and responsibilities of the employee need to be discussed and possibly reviewed.

The Working Time Directive (WTD) states that employees should not be working more than an average of 48 hours a week. Does this include checking emails either by choice or if required to do so? If the employee has not opted out of the WTD, then it probably does, but choice and control will also play a role here.

Security and devices

Another issue in this debate is around security and data protection. Who owns the phone? Is it a personal phone or a work phone? What security is on the phone? If work emails are on a personal phone, perhaps with confidential information, who is responsible for the security of that data? It is now outside of company systems and security protocols what happens if the phone is lost or stolen?

Employer Control

As an employer, you have a choice. You determine the culture. You set the policies and procedures. Communication is essential for you, your staff and the business, and you need to decide whether you want your team working on their mobiles – personal or otherwise – out of hours, including on their commute.

Family Friendly Policies

28 Mar
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Employment, Employment Legislation, Flexi-time, Flexible working, gender, Home-workers, HR Policy, HR Support, Human Resources, Job Sharing, Maternity, Part-time Workers Act, Paternity, people management, Policies and Procedures, reduced hours, Video, Vlog   |  No Comments

A full set of policies around maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay need to be developed so that employees feel valued and their skills are not lost from the business, but so that they business is able to function effectively with short and long term absences as a result of the prospective and actual birth of a baby.

The law provides for statutory time off and pay, but companies can provide more or structure things differently.

 

 

Social Media

14 Mar
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, HR Policy, Policies and Procedures, policy, Social Media, Video, Vlog   |  No Comments

Companies need to think about what they will and will not allow their staff to do in terms of social media.

Do employees have access to company accounts and if so, what are the rules around the use of that account?

If employees comment on ‘a day at the office’ what might the implications be for your business in terms of reputation to clients, suppliers and exisiting or potential employees.

A clear, well thought through policy is essential to enable apropriate use of social media for your business.

Can you turn back time?

26 Jul
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Employees, HR Policy   |  No Comments

MP rescinds her resignation

Scouring the BBC website looking for interesting HR stories and blog inspiration, I came Two Businessmen Running in Officeacross the news that Sarah Champion MP had rescinded her resignation from the front bench and asked Jeremy Corbyn for her job back. It appears that he has agreed and that she may be the first of several who, not having forced Jeremy to resign, will now be holding out a white flag of peace and resuming their previous roles on the front benches.

It is rare that we find employees asking to return to their former employers, but not unheard of. The biggest question is should you take them back? And if you do, will the relationship be better or worse than before?

When requesting references, one of the questions frequently asked is “Would you re-employ this employee?” Responses indicate that many employers have a policy not to re-employ, but a few say they would.

Not all leavers are equal

When determining your policy on re-employment, you may want to think about the provisions and safety nets which would be needed rather than taking a blanket decision. However, with all things HR, you need to ensure you don’t discriminate or set a precedent which will be hard to manage in the future. Would you treat the following scenarios the same?

  • A Saturday worker who left to go to University and now wants a full time job
  • An underperforming employee who resigned but can’t find a better job to go to, so tries to rescind their resignation before their notice period is up i.e. while they are still employed with you
  • A top performer who is head hunted by the competition, leaves for a month and then wants to come back as they didn’t like what they found on the other side of the fence
  • A good performer who left to travel the world for 12 months and wants to come back
  • A good performer who felt they were under paid, underappreciated and could contribute a lot more to the business if you just let them, who wants to come back to the business having worked for another (non-related business) for 3 years.

In truth, we have dealt with all of these scenarios over the past 12 months and there are no hard and fast rules on how to deal with them – it comes down to relationships, personalities and setting (or not wanting to set) a precedent.

Whose business is it anyway?

RecruitmentOn the one hand, you do not want to cut off your nose to spite your face, but on the other hand you don’t necessarily want to take someone back just because it suits them to come back. Your business may have moved on. You may not have a vacancy. You may not have a need for their skills. However, feeling guilty because they were a nice person is not a good enough reason to take someone back.

When developing your policy, consider the following:
• The reasons for leaving may have a massive influence on whether you take someone back
• Their previous attendance record
• The amount of time they have been away
• The size of your business and whether you can easily absorb extra headcount
• Whether the person has a unique or scarce skillset
• Where they have been since leaving you
• The role and money you bring people back into

If you decide not to re-employ previous employees, ensure you apply your policy strictly and that all employees are aware of the policy before they leave the business.

As always, if you require any help writing a re-employment policy, do not hesitate to contact the team on support@dohr.co.uk or by calling 01923 866040

When Social Media Goes Wrong

13 Aug
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, HR Policy, Social Media   |  No Comments

Having to give an employee their notice is never a pleasant experience for either party.

If the situation does arise, the best outcome is that both you and the member of staff in question can leave the relationship amicably with the right contracts and paperwork to back you up…

However, that’s not always the case.

I came across an article this week that described the recent dismissal of a canal worker:

http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/social-media-misconduct-fair-dismissal-facebook-boasts-getting-drunk-standby/

After eight good years of service, the employee was dismissed due to his actions on Facebook two years previously, he took his case to a tribunal where the mitigating circumstances allowed him to claim unfair dismissal.

Now I don’t claim to be the Queen of social media, but I DO  know that posting derogatory comments about your work and your boss on your Facebook account, plus letting the world know you’re getting drunk on company time is a rather stupid idea that definitely isn’t going to stay private.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal  have since overturned the decision, and the unfair dismissal charge has been dropped.

As these cases involving social media are still fairly new and few in number, it’s easy to see why businesses aren’t always prepared when their staff act inappropriately online.

However, it’s essential that you layout your  expectations and make sure your employees have the correct guidelines, knowing what they can and can’t do when they are using the internet not only at work but when referencing work as well.

How to create boundaries between social media at home and work…

  • Develop a policy setting out  what is and what is not acceptable for general behaviour and the use of the internet, emails, smart phones and social media at work.
  • Employees should regularly check the privacy settings on their social networking pages, as they can change.
  • Employers should inform and consult with their employees if planning to change the monitoring of social media activity affecting the workplace.
  • Make sure you have the necessary clauses in your contracts to back up your policies.
  • Make sure your policy on bullying includes references to ‘cyber bullying’…..just in case!

Make sure your business is covered and it’s far less likely that your team will make such misdemeanours or that your employees can take action against you.

A Medical Certificate Instead of a Tie!

06 Aug
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, HR Policy   |  No Comments

I had to dish out some fairly unexpected advice this week that I thought I’d share, it had all of us laughing and debating a rather interesting point.

I have a very successful client who owns an Estate Agent and as most of his staff are client-facing, the dress-code in his workplace is ‘business smart’. However, one of his male members of staff was refusing to wear a tie, as they give him migraines. As he produced a doctor’s note to confirm this, my client was at a bit of a loss as to what to do.

The Research

Despite the medical note, I decided I needed to do some research myself, and there are some studies that show that neck-ties can cause tension and pain in the neck and head: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204909104577235313412770808

I also discovered the obligatory celeb who supports this idea: http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/article/TMG8550999/Tom-Ford-gets-something-off-his-chest.html

And those who believe that wearing a tie is a cure for migraines (tie it tight around your head)!

Anyway, apparently 67% of men buy shirts that are too small for their necks which can in turn reduce circulation to the brain, or result in muscle tension in the back and shoulders – so it may not be the tie at all:)

Back to our client

Our objective: to find a solution that would work for both the employee – no migraines and the employer – a smart employee

Our advice:

  • Ensure your employee understands why you have a dress code
  • Discuss some options to reduce the tightness around the neck, without removing the tie
    • loosen the tie
    • wear a bigger collar size
    • Undo the top button of the shirt
    • try clip-on ties
  • Ensure that you are clear about the implications if they continue to refuse to wear a tie

In most cases, reaching a compromise that both you and your staff are happy with is a far more desirable outcome than taking any further action.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when creating a dress code policy in your workplace:

  • Be practical and safe – Take into account what your staff are doing on a daily basis, who will they meet? Are they going to be travelling? Will they lift anything heavy?
  • Beconsistentwith your dress code- A lot of the discrimination claims that arise out of dress codes really arise out of their inconsistent application.
  • Make sure you consider all the racial, gender and religious implications of your dress code.
  • Make your code clear – ensure there’s a policy that staff can easily access (via a handbook or their manager) to find out what is expected of them.
  • Get some advice to make sure you’re prepared.

 

 

We Do HR – Making the Workplace a Better Place to be

08 Jan
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Health and Safety, HR, HR Policy, HR Support, Human Resources, Recruitment   |  No Comments

I am on a mission…..

Our strapline is “Making the workplace a better place to be” – but what does that mean?

Over the years, the management of people within a business has had many different names; the most familiar used today are “personnel” and “Human Resources (HR)”.  Whatever you choose to call it, staff have always been managed to a greater or lesser extent and whoever you talk to will always have stories about good and bad managers.

So, why our strapline?

Whether you are the employer or the employee, working in a ‘good’ place makes life far more bearable. We all spend too much of our time at work not to be happy. Doing a job which satisfies and challenges us, working alongside people who’s company we enjoy are both essential elements of a good workplace, but so is the working environment, including business culture and management ethos.

When we work with business owners, we ensure that we fully understand not only the business issues within the company, but the working environment as well:

  • If a company wants to remain informal, then we help them to develop and/or reinforce an approach which is a ‘soft-touch’, but compliant with employment legislation. This is often the request of small or family owned businesses.
  • If a company wants to build a base for rapid expansion, then we will ensure all of the HR policies and procedures form a foundation which is solid and easily scalable.
  • If a company doesn’t know what they want, but has an increasing number of employee relations issues, then we will review what is currently happening, understand the cause of the issues and work with the business owners and / or managers to put into place robust, transparent and well-communicated HR policies, procedures, processes and practices.

This approach to HR Management provides line managers with a mandate to manage, making the workplace better for them. At the same time, employees understand what is expected of them for example: hours of work, dress code, health and safety and sickness notification; and what commitments the company has made with respect to terms and conditions of employment and HR policies such as disciplinaries, grievances, sick pay and leave, annual leave, health and safety, discrimination etc.

‘Making the workplace a better place to be’ may take on many different guises and change over time. At DOHR we ensure we know what the workplace looks like now and how it needs to look in the future. Implementing good HR practices, we work very closely with business owners and managers to realise the vision, to reduce risk to the business and make their workplace a better place to be.

The Dreaded Appraisal

22 Oct
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, HR Consultancy, HR Policy, HR Support, Performance Management, Policies and Procedures   |  No Comments

Results sign postThis time of year, we find many of our clients want to take the opportunity to appraise staff. Of course there is no hard and fast rule as to when to do this and some companies will link appraisals to the financial year end, the end of the calendar year or the employee’s anniversary with the company.

It’s important for every business to have an appraisal process in place as part of its general performance management framework. Staff must have objectives set that are aligned to the business goals and these are often cascaded down through any management structures which exist within the organisation.  Appraisals are  also an excellent tool for keeping  staff fully engaged with the business as they help them to understand the business and to set their personal goals to that they contribute to future success.

An appraisal is an opportunity to step off the rat wheel, to step back from the daily grind and to review successes and failures with the benefit of hindsight. Activities and progress from the last year should be discussed and lessons learnt turned into positives. Nothing should be raised in an annual appraisal which has not already been discussed in a timely fashion throughout the year. This is a review and summarise activity which plays a significant role for future goal setting. Any areas for concern or opportunities for development should be discussed in an open and honest way during the appraisal.

There are four stages to an effective appraisal:

  1. Preparation
  2. Meeting
  3. Write up
  4. Follow through

Preparation

Preparation for both the appraiser (manager) and appraisee (employee) is essential. The appraiser should ensure that the appraisee has all the paperwork at least a week before their meeting. The manager should ask the employee to work through the paperwork, filling it all in with their opinions, thoughts and views. Having a copy of last years appraisal or any interim reviews, targets etc. would be a useful starting point for reviewing the year.

The manager also needs to prepare and they should go through the same process for each of their direct reports.

The Meeting

The meeting is a two way process. It is an open and honest discussion, during which the appraisal form is jointly completed. While the employee has a significant input, if the appraiser and appraisee can not agree, it is the appraisers view which is documented and the appraisee has the opportunity to make their views known in a comments box. Examples and feedback from others are particularly powerful in an appraisal meeting.

Write it up

Following the meeting, the paperwork is finalised. Despite any differences of opinion in the meeting, the appraisers view is what is documented, hopefully with consensus. The employee should get the opportunity to add their comments and should be given a final copy of their appraisal form.

Follow up

Once complete, businesses do one of two things with the appraisal documentation. Many will just put it in the personnel file and forget about it until next year. Successful organisations however, will bring the document to life, making it a working, evolving and directive tool for guiding progress and development throughout the next 12 months. The documentation should be used in monthly or quarterly 121 meetings and updated where appropriate as roles change, the business evolves and set objectives are met.

Does your business carry out appraisals? Do you see a benefit in them or are they a waste of time? Do you even look at your appraisal notes during the year? We would love to know your views.

For help and assistance with any of your appraisal needs from policy to forms or training, we are happy to help.

Business Continuity – Plan for the Unplanned

02 Feb
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Business Continuity, Employees, HR Consultancy, HR Policy, Human Resources   |  4 Comments

Business continuity, disaster recovery, whatever you call it, it has to happen. 2011 saw many disruptions to businesses both here in the UK and abroad. How prepared were the businesses, how did they recover and could you do the same?

Do you take the view that it will never happen to us and then bury your head in the sand, or keep your fingers crossed that it never does? Or do you sit around the table with your manager(s) and plan for all eventualities. There is no point always being an optimist if it puts your business at risk. You need to develop a list of possible scenarios, precautions and solutions to ensure no matter what the weather, terrorists or the Olympics throw at you, you know your responses, have the policies and procedures you need and the contact numbers of your key staff, IT support company and other key emergency response people.

Several years ago, I had first had experience of disaster recovery and the need for preparation. I worked for a company based in Hemel Hempstead when there was a massive explosion at Buncefield. Fortunately the explosion was in the early hours of the morning and there were minimal numbers of people on site. The building was absolutely out of action. The glass atrium collapsed and windows all over the building were shattered. Many other businesses were affected with sprinkler systems causing more damage than the actual explosion in several cases.

The priority was business as usual. With another local facility, staff who could worked from home or the London office on laptops, call centre staff from Hemel Hempstead were moved to St Albans and IT had back up systems running in less than 24 hours.

It is the people, information and customers which are valuable, not buildings and furniture. Ensure that your people have the ability to work from anywhere as the needs of your business dictate. You can’t avoid snow, floods or incidents, but you can plan for the worse and give yourself a competitive advantage if you can get back up quicker and better than others.

Your people are the key to your business continuity planning.

Do you have a plan for the unplanned?

Have you had an incident where Business Continuity Planning saved the day?

Share your thoughts and experiences.

Recruiting Blind

18 Jan
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Discrimination, HR Policy, HR Support, Human Resources, Policies and Procedures, Race Discrimination, Recruitment, war for talent   |  3 Comments

Would you? Could you?
Over 100 UK businesses have pledged to recruit blind as a way of increasing social mobility and reducing the risk of discrimination candidates with submit their applications on standard company from without a name or school.

As an HR professional, I’m not sure how I feel about this.

15 years ago I developed application forms with tear off flaps for equal opportunity monitoring. The forms were all numbered sequentially and the applicant tracked through the system by number so we monitored age, gender and ethnicity. It actually made no difference to our employee demographics. It did however take time and resources to manage and continually monitor the applicants through recruitment, selection and promotion within the company. Even at the time, removing date of birth from the application form seemed odd – you just needed to look at when someone was at school or entered the workplace to be able to estimate their age.

So now we are removing name and school as well. Will it really make a difference? Will this prevent ‘the old boys network’ from blocking social mobility?

Companies signing up to the Compact have also agreed to use schools and other public forums to advertise work experience / intern opportunities rather than offering the places to informal contacts.

Thinking about your business, would you prefer to advertise for a junior in your local schools or take the son / daughter of an existing employee or a friend?

Is this the end of the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”?

Page 1 of 3123
css.php