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Professor Sir Cary Cooper: How to build a culture of employee wellbeing - YouTube

Here’s what a culture of employee wellbeing is not:

  • Sushi at your desk
  • Ping pong tables
  • Beanbags

So what exactly is a culture of employee wellbeing?

If anybody is qualified to answer this question, it is Professor Sir Cary Cooper. As “the media’s first choice for comment on workplace issues”, he hardly needs any introduction.

Hit play to learn his favourite tips on enhancing employee wellbeing. And if you enjoy this video, you might enjoy reading Professor Cooper’s more detailed thoughts on why you should stop sending emails after hours.

The post How to build a culture of employee wellbeing appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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Public health laws in the UK say that enclosed workplaces and public places must be smoke free. But beyond this, there’s not much written in law that stops your employees from stepping outside, and lighting a cigarette. But should you let them, or should you try to create a totally smoke free workplace?

Dr David Roomes is the Chief Medical Officer at engineering company Rolls-Royce, employing over 55,000 people. Rolls-Royce takes employee wellbeing very seriously. And creating a smoke free workplace is exactly what Dr Roomes did, in an effort to promote better health and wellbeing for his employees.

Health and wellbeing is best when it is simple

“People overcomplicate health and wellbeing” says Dr Roomes, “but actually, the four things you can do to make the biggest difference, are simple.”

Dr Roomes says that the key to better health and wellbeing, are:

  1. Eat better
  2. Drink plenty
  3. Move more
  4. Quit smoking

As an ex-smoker, that last point got my brain ticking. How the hell do you stop employees from smoking? Is it a personal freedom you should put up with, or should you be taking matters into your own hands, for the greater good?

Going smoke free across the board

“At Rolls-Royce, we have taken the approach of going globally smoke free” Dr Roomes tells me. “What that means is not just not smoking in buildings, but not smoking on any real-estate that we own or manage.”

Dr Roomes recognises that people have the right to smoke, but says that does not mean they should have the right to smoke on company premises.

“What we previously had was smoking shelters” he says. “But while we recognise that they are not doing anything ‘wrong’ by smoking – it is perfectly legal – we decided that they should be doing it on their own time, and away from our premises.”

Why pay to promote self harm?

But if the company had previously provided smoking shelters, I wondered why the change of heart? Dr Roomes told me that he doesn’t believe it is right for a company to collude with self harm.

“It’s harmful” he says, fully aware that this is not news to anybody. “Yet companies spend thousands putting up a smoking shelter – you’re investing thousands of pounds to enable smoking! You’re actually paying to help people self-harm.”

Thinking I was being clever, I asked Dr Roomes if it is not the same as providing free chocolate. He laughed – he’d heard this one before.

“Well, there is a safe amount of chocolate you can eat” he says. “There is no health benefit to cigarette smoking.”

Don’t just pull the rug out from under their feet

While I fully support measures that improve health and wellbeing in the workplace, I couldn’t help but feel as if a sudden smoke free workplace might be too much of a shock to the system. After all, if we took this back a couple of years, and somebody suddenly told me that I wasn’t allowed to smoke on company premises anymore, it’s safe to say I would be pretty pissed off.

“We did not pull the rug out from under anybody’s feet” Dr Roomes reassures me. “We put a two-year lead time into introducing the policy, and we put into place smoking cessation support programmes for those people who wanted to quit.”

Dr Roomes says that as well as being a personal freedom, smoking is an addiction – you can’t just deal with the problem by pretending it’s not there. So if you plan to introduce a smoke free workplace yourself, then make sure you give employees plenty of notice, and put the support programme into place to help them quit if they want to.

Encourage employees to quit smoking for a healthier happier workplace

You can’t – and shouldn’t – try to force employees to quit smoking. But if you can successfully encourage them to make this big life change, you and they will reap the rewards.

“There are so many benefits to stopping smoking” says Dr Roomes “and they’re not just physical. Stopping smoking improves bloodflow to the brain, which supports better mental health.”

For more information, British Heart Foundation has a useful  free booklet explaining the benefits of creating a smoke free workplace.

And if you liked this article, you might also enjoy my interview with Baroness Susan Greenfield, which explains why the brain of a gambling addict is the same as the brain of a tech addict.

The post Why Rolls-Royce created a smoke free workplace appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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If you think mental health in the workplace is just another fad, think again. We’re becoming a nation of tech junkies, and according to leading neuroscientist, Baroness Susan Greenfield, our brains are physically changing as a result.

Luckily, there’s a simple solution you can use, which will help employees to physically reverse the damage caused by addiction to technology, and the demand for instant gratification.

Plasticity separates humans from machines – so why don’t we know what it is?

The biggest difference between human brains and artificial brains, is that human brains physically grow and shrink, to adapt to the tasks we are asking it to do. This is something called ‘plasticity’, and when Baroness Greenfield explained it to me at UNLEASH London 2019, it was the first time I’d ever heard of it.

“It’s been a known phenomenon for a very long time” she told me over coffee, “but not many people are aware of it. The brain is understandable by everyone, but the sad fact is that it’s not taught in schools.”

Greenfield says that just like physical exercise increases muscle strength, the parts of our brain that we exercise the most, will also become our strongest. It’s why London taxi drivers have an enlarged hippocampus, for example. But what does this have to do with mental health in the workplace?

Addiction is a form of neural plasticity

Plasticity doesn’t just apply to positive things, such as skilful navigation. It also applies to negative, self-destructive behaviours. And experts such as Marina Wolf, professor of behavioural neuroscience, tend to agree that addiction is simply another form of neural plasticity.

According to Greenfield, a brain scan of a gambling addict will likely show growth in the areas that handle dopamine production and delivery. And actually, this is not exclusive to gamblers – it is true of addiction in general. Including addiction to technology.

And this is where this all circles back to mental health in the workplace – and how it’s not just a fad, but a problem that is literally, physically growing.

Technology is turning your workforce into a mob of reckless thrill seekers

We are in the middle of the 4th industrial revolution, and with it comes opportunity. But with it also comes danger – in the form of flashing lights and glowing screens.

From Candy Crush to World of Warcraft, as a species we have perfected the art of in-the-moment, hyper sensational pleasure. We have figured out the precise ingredients needed to stimulate our senses in the here and now, and to keep ourselves hooked to our own inventions.

“More people than ever are craving instant feedback and immediate gratification” says Baroness Greenfield. “There is research that tells us people would prefer to be electrocuted, than to feel nothing at all. We are actually addicted to fast, furious stimulation.”

Greenfield says that concepts such as gamification are causing a glassy-eyed nation of tech junkies, who are constantly seeking their next fix, their next achievement, their next thrill. She also says that if you scan the brain of a tech addict, it will look disturbingly similar to the brain of a gambling addict, a food addict or a drug addict.

Technology addiction is not harmless

You might be thinking that “technology addiction” is a relatively harmless phrase. After all, it’s not like the other addictions, right?

You’re not handing your salary to the casino bosses. You’re not eating your way to a heart attack. And you’re certainly not screwing your vital organs up by putting harmful chemicals into your body.

But actually, Greenfield tells me that just like any addiction, technology addiction is harmful. And not just because it can swallow months of your life, demanding you to complete pointless tasks in an attempt to harvest your data.

“It changes the way we behave” she says. “Addicts have short attention spans, and display more reckless behaviour with less awareness of risk.”

There is a difference between reckless behaviour, and calculated risk-taking. One is generally good for business, the other generally isn’t. And Greenfield says that a workforce of addicts is far more likely to lean towards reckless behaviours, with poor risk calculation, in an attempt to find that next dopamine hit.

Technology should be delivering an enriched version of the real world

So is the solution to a workforce full of addicts with short attention spans, to simply remove technology from the equation?

Probably not. And actually, technology does an awful lot for us. And besides, if you throw a smoker’s cigarettes away, it’s not going to take away their addiction.

Baroness Greenfield says that instead, we should be looking at how we design, build, promote, and use technology.

“Technology is helpful to a lot of people in a lot of ways” she says. “But instead of replacing our lives with a new virtual world, we should be using tech to deliver an enriched version of the real world.”

You can help repair tech-addicted brains by telling more stories

Throughout my entire conversation with Baroness Greenfield, I had one burning question on my lips: If we are physically destroying our brains with addiction, then how can we start to repair the damage? How can we encourage employees to reduce the need for instant gratification, and how can we use this knowledge to improve mental health in the workplace?

The answer, says Greenfield, is narrative. Telling more stories, and engaging in more activities with a clear beginning, middle and end.

“You can give people back their identity, by giving them a better sense of past, present and future” she explains. “The current world is dependent on the moment. The screen is popular because it is hypersensational, faster, brighter, noisier… more extreme. And the way you beat that, is by giving people back a life story, a frame of past present and future, and a sense of time passing.”

Story-based activities to encourage in the workplace

Here are a list of suggested activities for employees, which Baroness Greenfield says could help reduce the need for instant gratification, and improve mental health in the workplace.

  • Reading books
  • Playing sports
  • Cooking food

“These are all activities that require you to pace your time” she explains. “They also have a clear beginning, middle and end. Besides, you can’t get on the phone while you’re serving at tennis, can you?”

She also adds that in our personal lives, we should be giving more hugs, picking more flowers, and climbing more trees. Why? Because you’re making these decisions, you’re in control, and the smells, the colours and the sensations that these sorts of activities deliver, have a wonderful impact on wellbeing.

About Baroness Susan Greenfield

Baroness Greenfield is a leading neuroscientist, who holds 32 honorary degrees from UK and foreign universities.

Her life work focuses on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, and she has written many books which have helped people to understand the brain better, and even inspired many others to become neuroscientists themselves.

She is the Founder and CEO of Neuro-Bio Ltd.

The post How technology compounds the problem of mental health in the workplace appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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When Google’s Chief Decision Scientist, Cassie Kozyrkov, took the stage at UNLEASH London 2019, I knew we were in for a treat. And the presentation she delivered, on mastering business intelligence, did not disappoint. In fact, it got me thinking about the future of artificial intelligence and HR.

You may already know that I am a keen advocate of new technology that helps us work smarter. You will also know that I do not believe robots will take over the workforce.

Cassie’s presentation at UNLEASH London helped me further articulate some of my thoughts in this area. In particular, how artificial intelligence and HR will influence each other, in the years to come – and how we must be careful not to see AI as a lazy solution to our human shortcomings.

Let’s explore in more detail.

AI is just another tool

When I use the phrase “artificial intelligence and HR working together”, perhaps it conjures up an image of two different entities, a robot and a human, each with different skills, different abilities, and different thoughts and feelings, working together. But, spoiler alert, it turns out that we don’t actually “work together with robots”. Well, at least no more than we “work together with hammers”.

People often talk about AI and robots, as if they are living, conscious beings. But according to Kozyrkov, although it might feel like robots are scarily close to becoming our equals – or even our superiors – artificial intelligence is still just another tool.

Google’s Cassie Kozyrkov breaks down big data, AI and Machine Learning at UNLEASH 2019

“Tools we choose to use are always better than humans at something” she explains. “We use them to let ourselves do more. AI is just another tool, and the way you use it is up to you.”

Kozyrkov uses the example that we don’t work together witha hammer. We use a hammer to help us do a job. Because, let’s face it, hitting nails in with bare fists isn’t a particularly fun prospect.

And AI is no different. Just like a hammer, AI is better at doing things for us, such as crunching lots of data in a short space of time. Just like a hammer, AI is just another tool we have invented, to help us do a job we are not very good at.

The skill of the decision maker determines the results

But while AI is good for crunching data, finding patterns, and predicting future behaviours, it is still very much limited by the skill of the decision maker. And if you’re wondering who the decision maker is in this context, it is the person who programmed the AI.

“Unreliable workers can be better workers, if they have bad decision makers as managers” says Kozyrkov. “This is because when they are given bad instructions, they don’t execute them reliably! Put a reliable worker under a bad manager, and you’ll get a reliable execution of bad decisions. And if you put AI in the hands of a bad instruction giver, you will get the most reliable worker of all – and you will have a super reliable, scaled-up version of those bad decisions!”

In other words, while AI is very good at executing commands, you have to be certain that the commands being given, are good. Otherwise, AI can end up actually hindering your success.

So what does this mean for HR?

There are many ways HR and AI can work together

Popular thinking states that there are many benefits for combining artificial intelligence and HR. After all, machines can crunch data in ways humans cannot. For example:

  • Removing bias from the recruitment process
  • Predicting an employee’s ability to meet key performance indicators
  • Executing repetitive HR admin tasks with no human error

But while this all sounds very positive, it’s not always as clear cut as it sounds. Why? Because not only is this all influenced by the way the AI has been programmed, but it is also influenced by the people in charge of collecting and producing the data the AI is processing.

Data is still just a biased text book

“Why do we give Data a capital D!?” Kozyrkov asked the room at UNLEASH London. “Data is just another biased text book, written by humans. And if you want to reach the right conclusion, you need to have different text books, written by different groups, with different biases.”

Simply using AI to process data will not do magical things. You won’t instantly remove bias from the recruitment process, simply by using AI. You have to feed the right datasets into the right machines.

“You need diversity of data” says Kozyrkov. “Even with big data, diversity is still super important. If you’re not careful, you will end up with nothing more than an echo chamber, replicating the thoughts and biases of the people who put the dataset together.”

AI won’t solve HR’s problems, but you can still use it as a tool

Just because we now have the programming skills, the computing power, and the quantities of data to use machine learning, doesn’t mean that we are suddenly going to solve all of our HR issues. Our datasets are still full of bias that we can’t even see, and our robots are still restricted by the people giving them their instructions.

However, none of this means that AI and HR cannot work together. Or, rather, none of this means that AI cannot be a useful tool for HR. And indeed there are many examples of where HR is moving from gut-based decision making, to data-based decision making.

But if you blindly trust AI and big data to solve your HR issues, then you’re probably setting yourself up for disappointment…

Or maybe you’re not. After all, if you create an echo chamber of bias, then the results you’re getting will feel right, because they align with your own beliefs. And you’re therefore probably not going to notice that there is anything wrong.

The post Can artificial intelligence and HR actually work together? appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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If you are not retaining your employees, you are burning through a ton of the company’s cash.

If you are really serious about helping your organisation succeed, you need to set your best foot forward and keep your people from jumping ship.


Consider the following figures:

If you turn those numbers into something tangible, it is safe to say that replacing an employee with a salary of $60,000/year is going to cost companies about $45,000.

In today’s post, I am going to show how Zety built a high-retention environment and how you, as a leader, can build yours from scratch.

Do 1:1s regularly

65% of employees argue that they do not receive enough feedback from their superiors.

The power of feedback is staggering, and it can cause turnover rates to decrease by as much as 14.9%.

However, implementing a feedback culture into an organisation is not an easy task. You can’t introduce a feedback tool and then expect your people to use it.

That being said, there is a simple way managers could improve retention rates as well as the culture of integrity — 60-min, weekly one-on-one meetings.

Below, let’s discuss the building blocks of those:

– Consistency is key

When it comes to 1:1 sessions, the number one rule is to make them recurring as opposed to random.

This will help you send a clear message to the employee that they are valued in the workplace, which will encourage them to stay for the long haul.

Now, sometimes things come up. And you will only have the time to meet with your top performers. It is totally cool, right?

You want to schedule one-on-ones with each and every team member.

Because otherwise, that would be an equivalent of saying, there are only a few people on this team that deserve my time. The others can wait for a while — no big deal.

Do you know what is going to come of that?

The engagement rate of those you met will spike whereas the morale of those people you did not meet will be blown to bits. And that will result in attrition.

– Pinpoint what’s holding them back

Successful one-on-ones are a two-way conversation.

If the employee mentions some roadblocks on their pathway to achieving their daily/weekly/quarterly goals, make sure you do everything you can to clear those obstacles.

However, instead of saying You need to do this and that, help them find a solution a solution on their own through guidance to make them more engaged.

Don’t turn your people into order-taking zombies. Make them feel like owners, and they will never want to quit.  —Piotrek Sosnowski, a Co-founder & VP at Zety.


All it takes is asking the right question: What do you suggest we do? Is there anything I can help you with?

Now, a good way to document obstacles and drive action would be to create a shared Google Docs file.

Here is how you can structure it to stay on top of things and have a documented history of things that need to be done

If your team members feel that you will support them when things go wrong, they’ll be happy to come forward to bring up work-related issues and brainstorm for solutions.

In turn, as a manager, you will be able to proactively clear those roadblocks taking care of your people’s problems and ultimately prevent them from jumping ship.

Invest in personal growth and development

Another important element that contributes to the retention and nurturing of talent is offering continuous training opportunities, which benefits not only the employee but the organisation as a whole.

Top performers are the future leaders of your company, and it is advisable to start mentoring them as early in their careers as possible.

But how do you approach this?

Will flying your team to Germany to attend some kind of conference make them stay with your company longer?

Probably not.
What you can do instead is ask your people how they want to develop and how you could support them in their pursuit.

At Zety, each and every employee has access to a personal development fund.

This allows our people to spend a certain amount of money on any personal development opportunities that they choose.

For example, it could be attending a local marketing conference, hosting a Google Analytics workshop, etc.

When your people know you genuinely care about them and their professional growth, they reciprocate allowing for a long-term commitment.

Pro Tip: Consider using Individual Development Plan (IDP), which is a great tool to assist employees in their both professional and personal development.

Outline career advancement opportunities

A job is attractive as long as it allows a person to develop professionally. That is why your people should have a clear idea of ​​their career opportunities within the company.

Even taking into account such factors as remuneration, position, and industry, a study run by Glassdoor showed that employees who filled the same position for too long are much more likely to switch to another company for further career growth.

One large company listed on Glassdoor solved the problem. Here is how they did it.

The high-performance employees were given access to private forums headed by the CEO, who discussed the most pressing issues facing the company.

The employees shared their thoughts and offered their solutions to the problems, which not only increased the transparency and the level of engagement but also allowed the top management to communicate with the rising stars.

At Zety, we developed a clear policy for landing a promotion within the company.

We communicate openly why someone can be promoted and when. This not only helps us create a culture of transparency but also reward those who perform exceptionally well.

So what criteria do we keep in mind when promoting our employees? There are several of them, actually.

  • Professional experience within the role.
  • Topnotch performance backed up by 2 performance reviews (we tend to avoid promoting employees based on recent wins no matter how major they might be).
  • Skillset as well as leadership/managerial skills that would match the minimum requirements to fill in the position.

Importantly, we do not tolerate promotions based on the subjective opinions of line managers. This is unfair toward the rest of the employees and is detrimental to our culture.

So if you want to retain your best specialists, you need to provide them with clear-cut career advancement opportunities and position them as future leaders as early in their careers as possible.

About the author

Max Woolf is a writer. He is passionate about helping people land their dream jobs through expert career industry coverage. In his spare time, Max enjoys biking and travelling to European countries. You can find him on LinkedIn.

The post We went from a retention rate of 67% to 86% — here’s our secret appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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When business is steady going, HR data is steady flowing. But business is not always steady going – and sometimes, there’s an influx of HR data. And whether that’s because of a recruitment drive, an acquisition, or just a change of systems… dealing with large quantities of new HR data is something you just have to do sometimes.  

Why you need to mitigate the risks of missing data

When it comes to HR admin, human error is one of the costliest mistakes. But when you get a sudden influx of HR data, it can be easy to miss important details. Especially if you’re trying to input each line of data manually.

“As an employment attorney I am constantly amazed at the lack of quality record keeping when it comes to employees” says employment lawyer Richard Celler. “During an employment case, the discovery process typically reveals missing records and incomplete forms. This is a sure fire way to increase settlement amounts and lose employment lawsuits.”

But it’s not just the legal side that should drive you to keep accurate records. Most of the HR data you hold, is probably held for a good reason – if you’re missing things like address details, bank details, or next of kin information, then you’re setting yourself up for potential disaster.

Digitalise the inbound flow of HR data

According to Nate Masterson, HR Manager for Maple Holistics, the first step to dealing with a mass influx of HR data, is making sure it all arrives in one consistent, digital format.

“It’s the best way to organise everything and save space and resources” he explains. “It also makes it easy to sort through. It’s common to receive an influx of HR data if your company is in the process of recruiting, but if you only accept emailed resumes for example, it will help simplify your system.”

Masterson says that as well as helping you keep data together, when you digitalise inbound recruiting data, it can help you easily find the right people you want, too. He says it’s easier to find particular keywords you’re looking for. Of course, scanning for keywords is a hotly contested topic in recruitment!

During an acquisition, it’s OK to maintain separate systems for a while

Acquisitions can be a lot to handle for HR. One reason is because HR ends up scrambling to merge all HR data into one uniform system. But while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the long run, it’s not always the right answer immediately.

“Sudden and abrupt change can disrupt workflows” says Tammy Cohen, founder of InfoMart. “For HR departments dealing with a flood of data, particularly due to mergers or acquisitions, consolidating technology systems is simpler in the long run. But leaders should consider the needs of each business unit within their organisation, and allow them to maintain their current environment for a period of time.”

You have a lot to deal with already when a merger or an acquisition is on its way. No need to further complicate this by taking people out of the environments and systems they’re used to – at least, not until the dust has settled.

Adding an influx of data requires a consistent process

Whether it’s a merger, an acquisition, a recruitment drive, or something else completely, you need a consistent process if you want to mitigate the risks of missing data. Now, depending on your HR system will depend on how you do this.

For example:

  • Entering each line of data bit by bit
  • Performing a bulk data upload
  • Requesting the service from your HR software provider

You probably want to avoid entering each line of data bit by bit, as this will require a dedicated data entry professional, and runs you a greater risk of missing data. Of course, if you use a paper-based HR system, or spreadsheets, then this may be your only option.

Paid service VS bulk data upload

If you are trying to add an influx of HR data to a digital HR system, then the company supplying the software will most likely offer a data load, normally as a paid extra service. This is because in the background, your software provider will have a data specialist working on transferring your data from one format to another.

But if you don’t want to pay for this kind of service, or wait for your service provider to tell you it’s ready, then you may want to enquire about the option of a bulk data upload that you can do yourself.

The way this works requires a bit of groundwork, but not much. Generally, you just need to add your bulk data to a pre-prepared spreadsheet template, and then check all fields match up. If done correctly, this template should then correspond perfectly with the fields in your HR system – as long as the template has been supplied by your software provider. If you’ve created it yourself, this might not work so well!

We added a bulk data loader for People® customers, as an extra option for an influx of data. Here’s how it works in practice.

So if you don’t want to risk making mistakes with slow, manual data entry, and you don’t want to wait for a professional to migrate your data for you, then ask for a data load template. Not all HR software suppliers will offer this, but it won’t hurt to ask.

The post How to deal with an influx of HR data appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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Last year, people were online for an average of 24 hours a week. For people aged 16-24, this was higher, at 34.3 hours. Smartphone addiction is real, and it’s being fuelled by the rise of the ‘tech natives’, aka Generation Z.

But what can HR do about this problem? And is it even a problem? Or is there a way HR can take advantage of smartphone addiction at work?

31% of employers outright ban mobile phones

HR often looks to solve the problem of smartphone addiction at work, by finding out how they can prevent employees from using their personal devices. According to a report by HR News:

  • 31% of employees say personal smartphones are banned outright
  • 29% of employees say senior management don’t trust them to use their personal devices
  • 26% of employees are confused by their company’s mobile policy

But the question I always find myself asking, is this: Is the use of smartphones at work really such a bad thing? I explored this topic in some detail, a while ago, in an article titled: Should HR be more relaxed about mobile phones at work.

If you’re still debating whether it’s a good or bad thing, then read that article. Today, I’m going to assume that instead of trying to ‘beat’ the smartphone addiction at work, you’re trying to take advantage of it.

Quicker compliance & a better audit trail

Have you ever felt like getting key company documents signed is a constant game of cat and mouse? The trouble is not that people don’t see the policies or documents… it’s that they are far too busy doing their work, to remember to sign them, and return them to HR.

If you have an online HR system, then you’re one step ahead of the game already – employees can electronically sign documents once they’ve read them. But why stop at just desktop and laptop computers?

If your HR system has the capability for eSigning documents, then encouraging employees to do this from their mobile phone, will help you keep your response rate high – and the auditors happy!

Plus, you may be able to edit and upload your own HR documents from your own mobile phone. Remember, you probably use your smartphone just as much as your employees do.

Oh, and in case you were wondering – yes, electronic signatures are just as legally binding as pen and paper!

Smartphones are the new way to clock in and out

Tracking time and attendance is one of the most understated benefits of smartphones, as far as HR is concerned. There are so many ways to clock in and out. But why don’t more HR professionals consider the advantages of using smartphones?

I mean, seriously. It’s easy to forget a punch code. It’s easy to forget to add a name to a spreadsheet. It’s very easy to leave an ID card at home. But how often have you gone to work without your mobile phone, or forgotten the pin code to unlock it?

We are so attached to our smartphones, that we are almost literally becoming a nation of cyborgs. And research from 2014 says that even if you do forget your mobile phone, 3 in 10 people would go back home to get it, no matter how far they were from the house.

HR can use this obsession of never leaving a phone behind, by utilising this pocket computer to support clocking in and out. For example:

  • Geofencing can clock employees in and out when they enter a particular geographic area
  • Proximity beacons can automatically clock employees in when they are close enough to the beacon
  • QR scanners on phones can scan codes to prove particular locations have been visited

If you’re a People HR customer, you might like to learn more about the new time and attendance package we launched, which helps you take advantage of this technology. Learn more about time and attendance on our news site, here.

Allowing smartphones encourages a more honest, open way of working

Natalie Lynch is a solicitor. And she says that if HR fails to embrace the working style of the era, then they are mandating a workplace that has incentive to sneak or become unmarketable. In other words, stopping employees using their phones just encourages them to go behind your back – which is more of an issue.

“Smartphones can be locked down in ways that make sense to each employer, according to their security issues” she reassures. “By embracing smartphones, HR is acknowledging the acceleration of business, research and integration.”

Lynch says that even employers operating in locked down free trade zones find ways to utilise phones to keep their employees relevant and efficient, while safeguarding company data.

Other advantages of encouraging smartphones in the workplace

Smartphones at work encourage transparency and honesty. They can offer HR innovative new ways to track time and attendance, and they can get more key documents signed, faster. Here are a few other ways HR can embrace smartphone addiction:

  • Engagement. Using smartphones as a way to engage employees is a great way of taking advantage of the fact that they probably have their phone with them at all times. Sending “thanks” notifications to recognise and appreciate is one idea. Some companies also use HR apps to notify employees of exciting company events.
  • Secure chat. Some HR departments like to use mobile phones as a way to engage in secure chat with employees. For example, the People® app offers auditable chat functionality between team members and their manager – meaning you can have confidential HR discussions with employees, wherever they are.
  • Tracking team time. A good way HR can encourage smartphone use, is by helping employees see when their team members are working, or when they are away. With a team calendar synched to a mobile phone, there’s no need to go hunting for somebody who isn’t there.

If you are a People® customer, you can use our smartphone app for Android and IOS, completely free of charge. Just download from the app store here:

The post How HR can take advantage of smartphone addiction at work appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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Presenteeism is at a record high. But should we be celebrating the fact that our employees are forcing themselves to work while sick? Or encouraging them to take time off to recover?

I did a little experiment to help me find the answer. But first, let’s look at what presenteeism actually is.

What is presenteeism?

According to the CIPD, presenteeism hit a record high in 2018. But is this actually a bad thing?

Presenteeism describes an employee who works, when perhaps they shouldn’t. For example, by clocking in at the office, despite being sick. Wikipedia says that “presenteeism, or working while sick, can cause productivity loss, poor health, exhaustion and workplace epidemics.”

On the surface, it’s easy to conclude that presenteeism is the logical solution to absenteeism. After all, you want more bottoms on seats. Less sick days? Hell yeah! But actually, the reality isn’t quite so rosy.

Let’s look at a quick experiment I did last week.

I asked our illustrator to work with an injured hand

Our illustrator, Richard Smith, has been drawing for People HR since 2013. You may have seen his art on the People HR blog, or even in the popular People HR employee handbook.

Now, earlier this month, Richard had an operation on his hand. The hand he draws with. He had to take time off work, because his hand didn’t work properly.

But for the sake of science, I asked him if he would mind drawing us a picture, before his hand fully healed. To see what happened when we ‘made’ him work before he was well enough to work. He obliged, and the result is at the top of this article. So what’s the problem?

You’ll get results – but they might not be the results you want

As you can see, the picture Richard drew for us, is a good picture. In fact, I’d go as far to say it’s a great picture – I’m a big fan of artists like Quentin Blake, and their deliberately ‘messy’ style.

But the lines are rough, the colour spills over the edge, and it probably wasn’t the most enjoyable experience for Richard. So despite actually liking the cover picture for this article, I’m not convinced that we should be encouraging employees to work through their sickness at all!

You don’t want payroll doing a ‘deliberately messy’ pay run one month. And I doubt a customer in a cake shop would be happy with an ‘artistic impression’ of the specific cake they had ordered.

But presenteeism can impact more than just the work your employees produce. And it isn’t always a visible illness your employee might be struggling with.

When an invisible illness reaches breaking point

“We recently had an issue with a mentally ill employee” says Matthew Ross, co-owner of The Slumber Yard. “This particular employee was having some issues at home, and started to show some signs of stress. My business partner and I just assumed it was temporary and that it would pass.”

Unfortunately for Ross, the issues were a lot deeper than he realised. When Ross called the sick employee to check on his workload one evening, it sent him over the edge. Instead of locking up as normal, the employee smashed the glass door entrance to the office.

“I arrived at the office the next morning, to discover that homeless people had been sleeping there” recalls Ross. “They didn’t steal much, only some food and a laptop. But we had about $100k worth of inventory in the back!”

Ross and his business partner have since taken action, urging the employee to get help dealing with his stress. But they reflect that if they had taken action earlier, and recognised ‘presenteeism’, this could have been far more beneficial for everybody involved.

79% of employees force themselves to work while sick

The issue of presenteeism spreads far and wide. Our latest research found that 79% of employees are too afraid to call in sick.

Illnesses that people most commonly force themselves to work through include:

  • Colds and flu
  • Back and joint pains
  • Stomach ailments
  • Stress or emotional crises

This is bad for the individual, and bad for your organisation. Whether it’s a mental illness causing a breakdown, a broken leg causing an accident, or a common cold causing an epidemic. As employers, are we putting too much pressure on employees to come into work when they are not fit to do so?

You can read more about our research here.


The post This picture is why presenteeism is bad for your business appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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By Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library, the UK’s leading independent job

Are you planning to hire more people this year? Well, you’re not alone. According to CV-Library’s latest research, 72.2% of UK organisations say their level of recruitment is set to increase in 2019.

But, while this is a positive sign that the UK economy is growing, it also means that more companies are battling it out for the very best workers. As such, there’s more pressure on organisations to stay ahead of the game and remain competitive in the current market.

So, if you’re looking to boost your recruitment efforts in 2019, read on for our top tips on how to do so.

1. Develop your employer brand

According to our study, 54.5% of companies will focus on developing their employer brand this year and this strategy can certainly pay off. Today’s job hunters know what they want and certainly won’t settle for anything but the best opportunities, with the top employers.

With this in mind, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your candidate. What would you think of your company if you looked it up on Google? What does your website say about you? What tone are you using on your social media accounts? What will they find out on company review sites?

Taking control of your employer brand means owning the messaging that’s out there about your organisation. Essentially, you want to show that you have a great company culture and that you’re an employer that cares about your staff. So, make sure you’re shouting about key perks and any great employee stories online.

2. Target passive candidates

Unemployment is currently at its lowest rate for over 40 years, which means less people are actively looking for work. Because of this, it’s no longer enough to sit back in hope that job hunters will apply for your roles. Instead, you need to take a proactive approach to engaging with passive candidates.

Note that this isn’t necessarily the same as head-hunting. Your ultimate goal is to get people interested in your brand and you can achieve this through social media and by publishing eye-catching content.

What’s more, consider the types of events your target audience are attending. By building relationships with passive candidates, you’ll ultimately be building a talent pool for the future.

3. Focus on candidate experience

As mentioned earlier, candidates hold the power in the current market. Therefore, if you want to boost your recruitment efforts in 2019, you’ll need to focus on creating a great candidate experience.

This starts from the moment they look at your job advert, right through to when they come in and meet you for an interview. Consider key factors such as how long you’re taking to get back to applicants and how effective your interview process is. After all, if the entire process feels tedious for candidates, they’re likely to start exploring other opportunities, elsewhere.

Alongside this, think about the impression they’ll have of your company when they come into your office. Is someone there to greet them at the door? Are the interviewers polite and fair? In today’s climate, you can’t afford to put individuals off your roles by making small mistakes.

4. Streamline your application process

Further to the above, a massive part of the candidate experience is your application process. According to our research, 58.6% of hiring professionals understand that candidates don’t want to spend hours completing application forms.

What’s more, 60.7% of hiring professionals don’t think application forms are necessary these days, with 55.7% stating that a CV and cover letter provides enough information.

If you do require candidates to fill in an application form, try to make it as short and simple as possible to avoid any drop-offs and increase the amount of applications you receive.

5. Invest in the right technology

A huge part of boosting your recruitment efforts is about investing in the right tools to help you. Whether it’s a job board, Applicant Tracking System, or other HR technology, 89.5% of firms are planning on using technologies within their recruitment process in the next 12 months.

In particular, we’ve found that more companies are planning to invest in Artificial Intelligence, with 38.7% believing that it can help to speed up the time to hire and 27.4% that it can help to screen candidates effectively.

Consider what elements of the hiring process are taking up the majority of your time and think about which tools can help to boost your recruitment efforts as a result.

6. Measure success

Finally, it’s extremely important to set benchmarks and understand what success looks. After all, it’s all very well investing in all of the above, but if you don’t know whether it’s working or not, then how can you expect to boost your recruitment efforts?

Points to consider might include the average time to hire, the amount of clicks on your job adverts that convert into applications and the amount of offers you make that convert to hires.

In doing so, you should be able to pick out key areas of your hiring process that may not be working effectively, giving you the opportunity to fix them before it becomes a bigger problem.

Boost your recruitment efforts in 2019

Overall, if you want to attract, recruit and retain the very best workers in 2019, it’s important to put the time and effort into boosting your recruitment process.

So, take the above insights on board and consider what you can do to stand out from the competition and make the right hires this year.

The post 6 ways to boost your recruitment efforts in 2019 appeared first on Blog People.

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Have you ever found yourself questioning whether or not an employee really is sick? If so, then you may be contributing to a national problem. You see, the number of employees too afraid to take a sick day is growing – and that’s not good for their wellbeing, or for your business.

To mark National Sickie Day 2019, we surveyed over 2,000 adults across the UK. We discovered that 79% go to work while sick. For many people, this is because they fear judgement, or feel pressure from their boss.

We hope that our research sheds some light on the pressing need to give employees time to rest and recover if they are physically or mentally unwell.

Why 79% of UK employees are too afraid to take a sick day

Our research revealed that 79% of UK employees admit going to work while physically or mentally unwell. And even when they don’t force themselves to go in, 67% of UK employees feel guilty about taking time off work due to health-related issues.

The reasons people forced themselves to work despite being ill, included:

  • Worried about falling behind on workload (40%)
  • Pressure from their boss (24%)
  • Wanting to be seen in the office (22%)

22% of respondents said they had also forced themselves to go to work because they don’t get sick pay. It’s also interesting to note that 30% of respondents were too scared to talk to their bosses about needing time off, and 40% of respondents felt their bosses didn’t believe that they were genuinely ill when they actually rang in sick.

These are the most common illnesses that people come to work with

In our survey, we asked what kinds of illnesses people were suffering from, when they had forced themselves to go to work anyway. Here are some of the most common:

  • Colds and flu (66%)
  • Back and joint pains (28%)
  • Stomach ailments (24%)
  • Stress or emotional crises (22%)

As an employer, it is normal for you to want your employees to come to work. But if you’re not careful, you can facilitate ‘presenteeism’ – where employees are physically present, but not really fit to be working.

“Companies who encourage people to rest when they are physically or mentally unwell, benefit from lower staff turnover and better productivity” said Sat Sindhar, Managing Director at People HR. “Besides, is it really responsible to let an ill person serve food, operate dangerous machinery, or run payroll?”

The difference between men and women

As you might expect, we found a significant difference when we compared male and female responses. While both genders were well-represented in being afraid to take a sick day, their reasons for turning up to work differed somewhat.

One big difference, was that men were more concerned with missing out on work opportunities (16% vs 10%), while women were more concerned with being judged by other colleagues (16% vs 10%).

Overall, women were slightly more likely to go into work despite needing time off (82% vs 77%). This could be linked to the fact that they were more likely to feel that their boss didn’t believe them when they were genuinely ill (42% vs 38%).

32% of women were nervous about approaching their boss about taking a sick day, whereas only 27% of men shared the same concern.

This is what you can do to improve your employees’ wellbeing

We asked UK employees what they would want from their employer, in order to improve their wellbeing and do a better job. The 10 most popular selections were:

  1. An extra day off for your birthday (33%)
  2. Free breakfast (30%)
  3. Unlimited holiday (29%)
  4. Fruit provided (27%)
  5. Allocated ‘duvet days’ (25%)
  6. Health insurance (25%)
  7. A work ‘nap room’ (23%)
  8. Free massages at work (22%)
  9. Free yoga classes during work hours (19%)
  10. Discounted membership at nearby gyms (17%)

Despite the fact that giving employees an extra day off on their birthday was the most popular benefit, only 7% of respondents said that their company actually offered this.

About this research

This research was commissioned by People HR, and carried out by Atomik Research. The data was collected via an online survey of 2,002 UK adults aged 18+, which took place on 10th-15th January 2019. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researches and abides to MRS code.

Please feel free to use the figures published in this article to support your own content. When doing so, please attribute the research to People HR, and include a link back to this page.

The post New research: UK employees too afraid to take a sick day appeared first on Blog People.

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