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Looking for HR software? There’s no better place to start your search than at the brand-new Festival of Work, held in Olympia London next month.

Previously the HR Software Show, the event brings together leading HR tech suppliers under one roof, and is the perfect opportunity to demo different systems and ask questions.

So not to waste your time when you’re there, it’s good to come prepared. Taking a bit of time beforehand to equip yourself with a list of your key requirements so you can check them off as you talk to the different suppliers, will make it easier to make comparisons after the event, so you know who you want to follow up with.

We know there’s a lot to think about, so we’ve put together a checklist of essential questions you should ask as a guide.

(You can also print out just the questions in this PDF version and take it with you to the show!)

Getting a handle on costs

For most of us, the first step in any HR software selection process is to identify the optimal match between system functionality and budget. While there is no point in selecting an HR system that doesn’t meet your essential requirements; putting forward a budget that the business won’t sign off is going to be a frustrating waste of your time.

HR suppliers have quite different pricing models when it comes to system fees, set up services and support. It’s important to ask the right questions so there are no nasty surprises further down the line.

Licence/Subscription fees

  • What are the subscription/licence fees?
  • What are they based on? E.g. fixed headcount, active headcount, modules taken, users etc.
  • How are they charged? E.g. Monthly, annually, in advance, in arrears.
  • Can I reduce the fees during the subscription term? E.g. if we have fewer employees or want to drop a module.
  • If so, how much notice is required?
  • What is the minimum subscription term?
  • Is there a cap on data storage? If so, how much does extra storage cost?

Set up/Implementation

  • What set up services are included in the licence/subscription fee?
  • What would a typical implementation for a company of our size cost (and what does that include)?
  • How long would you expect it to take?
  • Do you help with data upload?
  • Are any of the configurations / customisations you make carried forward into future releases at no charge, or might they need to be redeveloped and recharged for?

Training

  • What training would you recommend?
  • Who should be trained (HR, manager, employees, suppliers)?
  • What does training cost?
  • Can training be delivered online/at our office/at your facilities?
  • What training is provided when new features are released?

Support

  • Is support an extra cost? If so, how much does it cost?
  • How does support work?
  • Do you have an online support portal?
  • What is your SLA (Standard Service Level Agreement)?
  • What escalation processes are in place?
  • Where are support staff based?
  • What hours do they operate?

Maintenance & Updates

  • What ongoing maintenance and update services do you provide as part of your licence/subscription fees?
  • Do we automatically receive new features for our purchased modules as soon as they are released?
  • How are releases managed?
  • Are updates included for free? If not, what should I budget for annually?
Considering contractual terms

As with pricing, you’ll find that suppliers have different contract and cancellation terms. Committing to a long-term contract may not be an issue for you. But, if you would like the freedom to move on if your needs change, it’s important to make sure you pick the vendor with the approach that works for you.

  • What is the minimum contract period?
  • How much notice must I give of cancellation?
  • How do I get data back should I cancel?
  • Is there a charge?
  • How long do you retain data after cancellation (you’ll need to know this for GDPR compliance)?
Securing data (& GDPR compliance)

As an HR professional, you know how important data security is. As the custodian of personal data, it is your responsibility to secure and manage it in a way that complies with GDPR and the legal and lawful requirements of your organisation. It’s rare to find an HR supplier that doesn’t treat data security just as seriously as you do. However, it is your responsibility to check – and to make sure the system will help you with your own compliance too.

Vendor data security and GDPR compliance

  • Is your HR system/service GDPR compliant?
  • Where is data hosted and backed up? Is it kept within the EEA?
  • How long are backups kept for? Is deleted data permanently removed?
  • Who hosts my data? Are you working with a leading supplier like AWS or RackSpace?
  • Do you have independent security certification, such as ISO27001?
  • Do you have regular independent penetration testing in place to validate your data security measures?
  • Is data encrypted?
  • Can I set up different security roles for employees in different countries/parts of the business, so I can control what they can see or change?
  • Can I use single sign on or dual authentication?
  • What password policies can I enforce?

Managing your own GDPR compliance

  • Can I provide secure self-service, so employees can see and update their own information?
  • Can changes be routed through single or multi-step approval workflows?
  • Can I track that employees have received, and sign to say they have read, key documents?
  • Can I set up data retention policies to automatically delete or anonymise data in line with GDPR requirements and different requirements in different parts of our business, or is the process manual?
  • Can I set up alerts to send out automatic notifications when mandatory training or other activities need to be reviewed?
  • Is there a portal or central area where I can store documents – such as data security policies or compliance processes – for easy access by different sets of employees?
  • How are subject access requests managed?
Following the 80:20 rule

HR software should come with the essential HR features already in the system. If data upload tools aren’t already in place, or other common features such as security roles, workflows or notifications must be set up from scratch, you’ll be wasting a lot of time and money. 80% of the core functionality you need should be in the system already – and the other 20% you should be able to achieve through configuration.

  • What data can you upload for me?
  • How much do you charge?
  • What security roles are already set up?
  • What authorisation workflows are in place?
  • What notifications are in place?
  • Does the system come with standard reports, such as the Bradford Factor?
  • What interfaces do you have in place (e.g. to payroll or LMS)?
Adapting to your way of working

Organisations don’t stand still, and your HR processes won’t either. So, alongside your check list of key features, it is essential to uncover just how flexible the system is – and how much control you have over set up and configuration. If you are reliant on your supplier to make changes, you’ll need to budget accordingly. Some of the key questions you may want to ask are:

  • Can I create, save and schedule reports to run automatically?
  • Can I add my own forms with workflow authorisations?
  • Can I set up my own security roles?
  • Can I relabel or add fields?
  • Can I create and distribute documents for e-signature?
  • Can I change authorisation workflows to route in different ways in different countries or operations?
  • Can I add new countries/languages/divisions/departments?
  • If my license/subscription is based on a fixed figure, what happens if I add more employees?
  • Do you have an API (which makes interfacing to third party applications more straight-forward)?
Looking under the bonnet

Today, HR software suppliers are either Cloud hosted or Cloud native. The former migrated existing systems to be hosted in the Cloud, the latter developed solutions that take advantage of agility and cost-efficiencies of modern Cloud infrastructures.

If you want to be confident of selecting the latest Cloud native technology platform, there are three simple questions you can ask:

  • Is your system multi-tenanted?
  • Are all customers automatically updated with new features as soon as they are released?
  • Can your platform automatically scale in response to system demand?

If the answer is no to any of these, the chances are the supplier is on an older technology platform. That may not be a problem, but it will influence future costs and, at the very least, you will want to run it past your IT team.

It’s also the case that most HR systems can be used from most mobile devices via a browser. If your HR application doesn’t run as easily on a tablet or smartphone as on the office PC, you’ll struggle to get everyone to use it.

  • Which browsers does the application support?
  • Do you have native mobile apps? If so, for which operating platforms?

 

Cezanne HR will be showcasing the latest enhancements to their HR system at the Festival of Work. Our friendly consultants will be happy to answer any questions you have, so come say hello at our stand, D68 and pick up a free ice cream! You can also pre-book your demo here.

 

The post Choosing the best HR software: Essential questions to ask at the Festival of Work appeared first on Cezanne HR.

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As Learning at Work week unfolds, organisations are trying to whet their people’s appetite for learning with activities ranging from bitesize courses and lunch and learn sessions to quizzes and masterclasses. The emphasis this year is on ‘shaping the future’, with some companies inviting employees to take part in forward-gazing focus groups or make personal learning pledges.

Some employees (and you probably know exactly who they are) will be hungry to learn as much as they possibly can and will grasp these opportunities with gusto. Others will be less enthusiastic – maybe taking part because they feel they ‘have to’ or finding convenient excuses to dip out.

What accounts for the difference? The answer is probably because the first category of employees have what’s known as a growth mindset, while the latter hold very fixed views about what they are ‘good at’ and their potential (or lack of it) to develop.

In unpredictable working environments, where change is constant, it’s important for organisations to have a cadre of employees who have a growth mindset. People with this frame of mind believe they have the potential to develop, are open to learning and better able to adapt quickly when circumstances are volatile or ambiguous.

Recent research from Hult Ashridge suggests that it is possible for people with a fixed idea of their abilities to shift their thinking and develop a growth mindset. So what does the organisation need to do to encourage employees to take a more positive outlook of their capabilities?:

1. Encourage a learning culture

Learning doesn’t have to be formal or classroom-based. The workplace itself is a great arena for people to develop their skills. HR needs to work with line managers to create an environment where learning is part of the way ‘we do things around here’. It’s about encouraging employees to share their knowledge, through peer-to-peer learning or social learning groups for example, or using projects or secondments as an opportunity for people to develop new skills. Mentoring is also a great way to give people the confidence they need to step outside of their comfort zone. Not all learning needs to be work-related. Some organisations have used Learning at Work week to offer classes on everything from yoga and cookery to pottery and photography, in a bid to ignite people’s passion for learning.

2. Develop a culture of feedback

Regular feedback is a valuable way to support employees in developing their skills and recognising their own potential. It will help to ensure employees get the training and support they need so that they can future-proof their careers and stay relevant to the business. HR has a key role to play in instilling a culture of feedback and ensuring that managers have the skills to deliver it effectively. A key part of any performance review should be about identifying employees’ aspirations and development needs, and finding creative ways for them to build their skill-set in line with business needs. If employees feel their manager believes in them and sees they have potential to grow, they will be more engaged with their job and motivated to learn.

3. Build self-awareness

Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses is a great starting point for development and will help people pinpoint the areas they need to address. People may not be aware, for example, that they have limiting beliefs which are holding them back or that they are perceived by others as having a negative or change-averse attitude. Psychometric assessments and 360 degree feedback programmes can help individuals develop an understanding of themselves and the way they operate and interact with others. An ability to receive feedback is just as important as the ability to deliver it. Learning at Work week provides a perfect opportunity for an internal masterclass on why feedback is a gift and how employees can make the most of it.

4. Provide opportunities for stretch

If you allow people to always stay in their comfort zone, complacency will set in and learning will stagnate. HR can support the development of growth mindsets across the business by encouraging managers to stretch their people with challenging assignments or by delegating tasks they would normally do themselves to give others the opportunity to learn. It’s important, however, that stretch is accompanied by support. It’s not about throwing people in at the deep end and them blaming them when things go wrong. The key is to give people the opportunity to learn new skills and try out different approaches, while having their back and supporting them along the way.

5. Allow time for reflection

We work at such a rapid pace that there is rarely time within the working day to sit back and reflect. Sitting back and reflecting on experiences is, however, a key part of learning. If managers want their people to develop a growth mindset, they need to give them time to reflect and learn from their experiences. If employees are being given challenging work, they need time to think about what went well, what they could have done differently, and what additional competencies they might need in the future.

You can find more information about Learning at Work week here: https://www.campaign-for-learning.org.uk/news/about-learning-at-work-week

The post Why your employees need a growth mindset appeared first on Cezanne HR.

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The research being published in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week are likely to make worrying reading for HR teams.

For example, a poll of 2000 employees by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Bauer Media found that only 14% of employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health at work, compared with 42% who would willingly disclose physical issues. The research shows the subject is clearly still taboo, and organisations need to do more to break down the communication barrier.

“Despite the increased awareness around mental health in the workplace, employees are telling us that there is still a significant gap in how we think and act about mental health.” Chief Exec of MHFA Simon Blake said in response to the survey.

HR can play a key role in creating a mentally healthy work environment. Changing an entire company’s perception on mental health isn’t easy, but with a proper strategy in place, it’s an achievable goal. We’ve picked out some useful resources to get you started.

CIPD: People Manager’s Guide to Mental Health

This comprehensive guide from the CIPD and MIND aims to help HR and managers break the culture of silence surrounding mental health in the workplace and to give specific guidance on disclosure. It covers the whole employee lifecycle, from the recruitment process and managing disability and ill health at work, to supporting those returning from a long period of absence. Containing plenty of useful information, practical advice and templates, this is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to facilitate conversations about workplace mental health and stress.

Mental Health First Aid England

As recent research has shown, people are more comfortable sharing physical problems than mental ones with their employers, meaning it’s vital that organisations are seen to be taking mental health seriously if they want to have a more open dialogue with their employees.

Bringing in mental health first aid training, alongside physical first aid, is a great way of showing employees that both are treated as being equally important. MHFA one of a number of organisations that provide training and consultancy for HR, managers and employees aimed at helping minimise the impact of mental health on working life. They offer a range of options, from basic training to a full qualification, which help workers spot signs of mental health issues, support their colleagues and reduce the overall stigma of reaching out for help.

Thriving at Work: the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers

This government-commissioned review of the UK workforce’s mental wellbeing gives an extensive analysis of the extent to which mental health affects the economy, and offers advice for employers, the government and other stakeholders to make positive changes. This is an in-depth guide, so we recommend starting with Chapter 5: Our Recommendations for Employers and Chapter 6: The Importance of Transparency and Leadership.

MIND – Free resources to help you take care of business

UK mental health charity MIND have a range of resources for employers, such as guides on creating a mentally healthy workplace, managing stress and supporting individuals experiencing mental health issues. They’ve also compiled a list of commonly asked questions from HR and line managers about policies for improving and supporting the mental wellbeing of staff. These are comprehensive and invaluable resources for HR professionals in any industry.

Are there any other resources on mental wellbeing in the workplace you’ve found useful? Let us know in the comments.

The post Mental Health Awareness Week 2019: Useful resources for HR appeared first on Cezanne HR.

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The research being published in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week are likely to make worrying reading for HR teams.

For example, a poll of 2000 employees by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Bauer Media found that only 14% of employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health at work, compared with 42% who would willingly disclose physical issues. The research shows the subject is clearly still taboo, and organisations need to do more to break down the communication barrier.

“Despite the increased awareness around mental health in the workplace, employees are telling us that there is still a significant gap in how we think and act about mental health.” Chief Exec of MHFA Simon Blake said in response to the survey.

HR can play a key role in creating a mentally healthy work environment. Changing an entire company’s perception on mental health isn’t easy, but with a proper strategy in place, it’s an achievable goal. We’ve picked out some useful resources to get you started.

CIPD: People Manager’s Guide to Mental Health

This comprehensive guide from the CIPD and MIND aims to help HR and managers break the culture of silence surrounding mental health in the workplace and to give specific guidance on disclosure. It covers the whole employee lifecycle, from the recruitment process and managing disability and ill health at work, to supporting those returning from a long period of absence. Containing plenty of useful information, practical advice and templates, this is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to facilitate conversations about workplace mental health and stress.

Mental Health First Aid England

As recent research has shown, people are more comfortable sharing physical problems than mental ones with their employers, meaning it’s vital that organisations are seen to be taking mental health seriously if they want to have a more open dialogue with their employees.

Bringing in mental health first aid training, alongside physical first aid, is a great way of showing employees that both are treated as being equally important. MHFA one of a number of organisations that provide training and consultancy for HR, managers and employees aimed at helping minimise the impact of mental health on working life. They offer a range of options, from basic training to a full qualification, which help workers spot signs of mental health issues, support their colleagues and reduce the overall stigma of reaching out for help.

Thriving at Work: the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers

This government-commissioned review of the UK workforce’s mental wellbeing gives an extensive analysis of the extent to which mental health affects the economy, and offers advice for employers, the government and other stakeholders to make positive changes. This is an in-depth guide, so we recommend starting with Chapter 5: Our Recommendations for Employers and Chapter 6: The Importance of Transparency and Leadership.

MIND – Free resources to help you take care of business

UK mental health charity MIND have a range of resources for employers, such as guides on creating a mentally healthy workplace, managing stress and supporting individuals experiencing mental health issues. They’ve also compiled a list of commonly asked questions from HR and line managers about policies for improving and supporting the mental wellbeing of staff. These are comprehensive and invaluable resources for HR professionals in any industry.

Are there any other resources on mental wellbeing in the workplace you’ve found useful? Let us know in the comments.

The post Mental Health Awareness Week 2019: Useful resources for HR appeared first on Cezanne HR.

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Making sure staff are operating at the top of their game is vital at a time when organisations are under intense pressure in competitive markets. Employers need their people to be agile, adaptable, productive and able to cope with constant change. Numerous surveys have shown a strong connection between regular, well-delivered feedback and high levels of performance and employee engagement. So if you don’t currently have a formal performance management process – or feel the one you do have is under par – what’s the best way to get started?

1. Define the objective

It’s important to be really clear about the overall objective of a new or revamped performance management programme. Is the programme being driven by the need to reach specific financial or sales targets? Do you want it to support improvements in customer service? Is it about making sure staff are as productive as they can possibly be – or ensuring that employees are making full use of their skill set or fulfilling their potential? Or perhaps your goal is to improve staff retention and achieve better engagement? You may have one core objective – or a combination of several. The picture will be different for every business – but the key to success is to be clear about what you want performance management to deliver, and how the programme you are developing links to the organisation’s wider strategic goals.

2. Communicate clearly

Employees won’t necessarily be jumping for joy at the news that you’re planning to introduce or overhaul performance management. It’s quite likely that staff will be apprehensive and may see it as the business putting pressure on them to achieve more with less. They might feel that managers will be hovering over their shoulder – and will be looking to penalise them for any mistakes or projects that don’t go according to plan. Managers themselves may also have concerns – and quite often see performance management as yet another administrative task to add to their already heavy workload. Clear and regular communication is key. Make sure that everyone understands why you are prioritising performance management, how it will work in practice and what it will mean for them personally. Be overt if you are planning to link appraisals to salary increases or possible promotions. If people are to play an enthusiastic part in the process, they need to feel that it is transparent, consistent and fair for all.

3. Train managers

Don’t assume that managers will automatically have the skills to deliver feedback and manage performance effectively. They will need training and in some cases possibly even individual coaching to help them develop both the competence and the confidence. An in house workshop is a great way to underline the message about the overall business case for managing performance – as well as the benefits that it will bring to them personally in terms of greater capability in the team. Make sure managers understand the timing and mechanics of the performance management process, but that they also appreciate the importance of making feedback an ongoing part of their relationship with their direct reports, rather than something that happens only at appraisal time. Giving managers a chance to ‘practice’ giving feedback and having sometimes difficult conversations is also a great way to help them hone their skills in a safe environment.

4. Use software to support the process

Performance management software can do much to streamline the performance review process, nudging managers when performance reviews are due, making it more likely they will actually happen. Any forms that need to be filled in beforehand can be distributed seamlessly, which also helps to ensure that both managers and employees prepare for the conversation, rather than rushing in without giving any thought about what they want to cover. Performance management systems also provide a central place where information about what’s been discussed and agreed can be stored and easily accessed by both parties. The technology can’t have the necessary conversations – but it will ensure that the process is consistent and that there is no room for confusion or dispute about objectives that have been set, timelines that have been agreed or training that has been promised.

If you’re setting up a performance management system for the first time, it’s worth considering running a pilot first to test the water. This will help to iron out any issues you may not have anticipated and will help you to assess what adjustments may be needed. It’s also a good chance to review whether the training you have provided has been sufficient – or whether there are still areas where managers need further support. It’s important to set aside time after each cycle to check on how the process is working, and share outcomes with key stakeholders. What are you learning from your reviews? How are they impacting motivation or productivity? Are they achieving the goals you originally set, and are those goals still current? Organisations change, and your performance management processes – and the software that supports them – needs to flex to fit.

The post How to get started with performance management appeared first on Cezanne HR.

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Think back to a time when you felt the pressure at work. Maybe it was leading up to a tight deadline, or when you took on extra work because of a lack of resources. It can be healthy to have a bit of stress to spur you on – some people relish it and produce their best work when the heat is on.

But continuous pressure over a long period can lead to employee burnout, and in extreme cases, mental health problems like depression or anxiety. So, when the chips are down, employees need to feel they have the backing of the business and are not beavering away or taking the flak in isolation. They need to be able to discuss problems openly and to feel it’s OK to say if they are not coping.

So what can HR do to support employees when the pressure is on?

1. Build a supportive atmosphere

Often, it’s the small actions that count the most. A team dealing with a crisis, for example, will appreciate someone senior taking an active interest, providing clear guidance and maybe even rolling their sleeves up to help. People who are working up against seemingly impossibly tight deadlines need someone to notice they haven’t had time to eat and to order the pizzas in.

Think about how you can put support mechanisms in place and encourage people across the business to develop a shared sense of responsibility. ‘In the moment’ support has proved to be highly valuable, so companies should help facilitate this by giving staff the opportunity and space to access support from their peers. The mental health charity MIND recommends designated spaces where staff can share their worries when they’re under pressure, whether that’s a meeting room, private corner or a coffee breakout area.

2. Help employees maintain balance

Employees are more likely to thrive in a culture that supports flexible working and takes account of their priorities, situations and the way they feel they work best. Alongside flexible working, there is also the opportunity for organisations to promote activities that might encourage people to maintain a balanced perspective and lifestyle include healthy eating initiatives, exercise classes, book clubs and music clubs, or participation in CSR initiative, such as helping out at local charities or providing mentoring. You could ask for funding to kick-start internal initiatives, reach out to local organisations in need of help and, of course, invite ideas or publicise activities and positive outcomes through your HR portal.

Saying it OK to switch off from work is important too. In our modern, ‘always on’ culture, it can be difficult to leave work at the office door now we can check emails before bed on our smartphones, or take calls when on holiday. HR can do their bit by making it explicit that down time is important and discouraging out of hours communications (emergencies aside); some organisations have gone as far as banning employees from sending emails out of working hours altogether.

3. Communicate a clear purpose

Some companies have a clear purpose that is easily identifiable and understood by the people who work for them. This is not, however, the case in every business. Communicating the purpose and vision clearly to employees helps them make sense of what they are doing and understand how their personal contribution fits into the bigger picture. This is particularly important during tough times, when people need some kind of ‘reference point’ to help them cope with change and ambiguity.

4. Build skills and confidence

Providing opportunities for people to learn and grow is an important part of helping them feel equipped to cope under pressure. While some employees thrive when thrown in at the deep end, the majority don’t. Managers need to help people in their team build confidence by identifying individual training needs and helping people improve their skills through appropriate support and development. This doesn’t have to mean sending people on expensive training courses – coaching, mentoring and job swaps are all effective ways you can help people build their skills, and help create a sense of community and shared responsibility at the same time.

5. Ensure regular conversations

People cope with pressure in different ways and it is not always obvious to managers who may be struggling. Creating a culture of frequent informal check-ins, backed by more regular and structured performance reviews, can help managers pick up on team members who are under stress and not coping well. Just putting time aside to talk to people, and give them a chance to air their concerns and explain properly what is happening can make a huge difference.

Organisations that invest time in understanding the pressure their employees face, and in developing strategies to help them cope, will create a healthier work environment and a more resilient, engaged and ultimately more productive workforce. The key is to learn which kind of initiatives work best in your business and to respond flexibly depending on the situation.

How have you supported your staff when they’re feeling the pressure? We’d be interested to hear what worked well for you.

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Employee engagement is a real issue for employers, with recent research showing that the UK has the highest proportion of actively disengaged workers in Europe.

It’s an issue organisations urgently need to tackle, given the body of evidence showing a strong link between engagement and overall company performance. Engage For Success research has shown, for example, that companies with high engagement scores frequently report lower staff turnover, higher customer satisfaction and better profit levels than their lower-ranked competitors.

HR teams tasked with improving engagement often turn to staff surveys to help them pick up on the issues that are leading to dissatisfaction. It’s also common to see a raft of initiatives being introduced to improve communication, support career development or give employees more of a voice. But one area companies often overlook is the contribution an automated HR system can make to improving engagement levels.

It may sound counter-intuitive, and of course the human element in any engagement effort is key, but technology can have a significant impact at key stages of the employee lifecycle.

1. Recruitment

An employee’s perception of the business starts from their very earliest contact at the recruitment stage. First impressions count, and potential new hires will start to form opinions about what it will be like to work for an employer, based on the ease of the recruitment process and the way they are treated as candidates. Recruitment software can do much to streamline the hiring process, making sure applicants are communicated with well throughout, with timely notifications of interviews or assessments and feedback on the success or otherwise of their applications. First impressions can be hard to shift, so getting it right from the outset is key.

2. Onboarding

At a time when competition for talent is intense, the last thing an organisation wants to do is lose a good candidate somewhere between acceptance of a job offer and the starting date. A recent Cezanne HR survey identified that organisations frequently suffer from ‘non-starter’ syndrome, with nearly two-thirds of HR professionals saying they have had new recruits quit before they even join. Poor onboarding processes are a key factor, with non-starters citing poor or no communication with the business as a factor in their decision to bail. Onboarding Software can help overcome this issue by ensuring candidates are communicated with regularly in the lead-up to joining, and have access to the documents and information they need to keep them enthused and ensure a seamless start.

3. Performance Management and career development

A good performance management process plays a massive part in employee engagement. It’s an opportunity for line managers to really get to know what makes their people tick, what they might be struggling with and what support or training they may need. If employees feel their concerns are being listened to and their career aspirations are being taken into account, they are much more likely to remain enthusiastic and productive in their roles. Sadly, performance management is often given low priority, or treated as a box-ticking exercise, by hard-pressed managers. Performance management software helps to underline the importance of regular appraisals or check-ins, nudging managers when discussions are due, providing templates to help guide conversations and offering a central place where discussions and actions can be recorded and easily accessed including those about future development and career opportunities.

4. Return to work

Coming back to work after maternity leave, an extended period off sick or a sabbatical can be a confusing and anxious time for employees. They may be concerned that their skills have become out of date, that people and processes will have changed and that they will find it hard to fit back in. A centralised HR system can help to ease the transition, making key policies and documents easily accessible and providing a central point for information about everything from IT support to Employee Assistance Programmes. Some HR systems also come with internal portals, where employees can connect with others, find out about projects they could get involved with or get quick answers to questions.

5. Relocation and promotion

Moving to a new regional or overseas base, or shifting to a remote working arrangement, can also be bewildering or unsettling for employees. There are new processes to learn, new colleagues to connect with – or in the case of dispersed workers, a big adjustment to be made in how to keep up to speed with what’s happening and communicate with colleagues. A good HR software system can support the move by putting key information at the employees’ fingertips, while self-service functionality will make it easy for people to manage their own data and deal with personal admin, such as logging holidays and sick leave, from wherever they may be.

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April is ‘Stress Awareness Month’, so in addition to our previous article on how HR can tackle work-related stress, we’ve put together a collection of TED Talks around the subject.

So if you’re looking for ways to reduce workplace stress, either for you or your colleagues, sit back and enjoy these engaging talks!

How to make stress your friend – Kelly McGonigal

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal turns the notion that stress is a bad thing on its head by arguing that stress, when dealt with properly, can make you healthier. Stress isn’t bad for you, it’s the belief that it’s bad for you which is the problem. Check out her talk and see if you agree.

How to make stress your friend | Kelly McGonigal - YouTube

Workplace mental health: All you need to know (for now) – Tom Oxley

“As an employer, all you need to do is give your people permission to speak safely, and be prepared to listen.” Seeing that a third to a half of us will experience some kind of stress, anxiety or depression during our working lives, Tom Oxley urges employers to have a more open dialogue about mental health in the workplace.

Workplace Mental Health - all you need to know (for now) | Tom Oxley | TEDxNorwichED - YouTube

The happy secret to better work – Shawn Achor

In this talk, Shawn Achor challenges the belief that you need to work hard and be successful to achieve happiness. The problem, he argues, is that every time we succeed, we immediately strive for the next win, and therefore change the goalposts of what success looks like. Real happiness comes from being positive in the present, and there are ways you can train your brain to be more optimistic.

The happy secret to better work | Shawn Achor - YouTube

The secret to building a healthy and happy workplace – Wolter Smit

A must-watch for HR and managers! Speaker Wolter Smit started his own software company and has since been widely praised for building a healthy and happy workplace. In this talk, he explains how his success is largely down to hiring the right people who are a good cultural fit, and reveals some of his recruitment secrets.

The Secret to Building a Healthy & Happy Workplace | Wolter Smit | TEDxBrighton - YouTube

Humour at work – Andrew Tarvin

Most people think humour and work are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but research shows that employees who embrace it are less stressed, paid more, and happier in their role. Andrew Tarvin, Proctor & Gamble software engineer turned ‘humour engineer’, explains how bringing laughter to his projects reduced stress within his team.

Humor at work | Andrew Tarvin | TEDxOhioStateUniversity - YouTube

The post 5 TED Talks to help you tackle workplace stress appeared first on Cezanne HR.

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Stress-related absences are continuing to rise, with almost two-fifths of UK businesses reporting an increase over the past year, according to CIPD’s latest Health and Well-Being at Work report.

The finger of blame is being pointed at ‘management style’, which was cited by 43 per cent of survey respondents, together with heavy workloads, mentioned by 62 per cent as a direct cause of stress.

It’s a problem that just won’t go away – and as the CIPD has pointed out, it’s perhaps unfair to give managers all the flak, when there’s often a big gap between what the business expects them to do and the training they’re given to equip them for their role.

HR professionals have a clear role to play in ensuring health and well-being is taken seriously at work – and making sure it is implemented effectively on the ground on a day to day basis. So what practical steps can practitioners take to reduce stress levels and create healthier cultures where employees can thrive?

1. Understand what you are dealing with

Triggers for work-related stress will vary from one organisation to another. In one it may be poor communication and employees feeling they have no voice, while in another unrealistic targets and under-staffing may be the issue. Another research survey out this week, from Brickendon, suggests that the rise of hot-desking is also causing stress, with over 80 per cent of employees surveyed saying that issues like not knowing where they can sit and wasting time setting up a computer were negatively affecting their mental health. Understanding the root cause of the problem is the first step to trying to tackle it. Exit interviews, staff surveys and focus groups can all help to give you a picture of what’s behind work-related stress and whether it’s an organisation-wide issue or a problem that’s more prevalent in some areas than others. Identifying the key issues will help HR target action appropriately and ensure that any investment made is well spent.

2. Get senior leaders on board

The CIPD’s survey highlighted a big difference between how strategically and pro-actively companies were supporting employee well-being. Two fifths of organisations taking part in the research had a stand-alone well-being strategy, while one in six were not doing anything at all to improve employee well-being. Getting those at the top to take the issue seriously is a key task for HR, who need to work alongside senior leaders to create the kind of people-centred, values-driven organisations that will lead to engaged, productive and happy staff. There are some indications that the issue is rising up the agenda. In this year’s survey, 61 per cent of respondents said it was an issue on senior leader’s radar, compared to 55 per cent last year. The key challenge is to make employee wellbeing part of the over-arching strategy, and integral to the way the company does business, and to move away from knee-jerk, stand-alone interventions.

3. Tackle management style and behaviour

Line managers may not be entirely to blame for work-related stress, but it certainly seems that some of their working styles and behaviours are contributing to the problem. Directive, inflexible styles of management can pile the pressure on, while seemingly ‘unapproachable’ managers deter employees from speaking up when they are struggling for fear they will be perceived as ‘weak’ or incapable. Cultures can’t be changed overnight, but HR can do much to encourage managers to create open environments where dialogue is encouraged and issues can be raised without fear of consequence. Line managers also frequently need help in understanding the importance of regular, constructive feedback and in how they can communicate and support their teams through change. It’s important not to assume that line managers will automatically be skilled at managing their people’s workloads and setting clear objectives and realistic deadlines. Often, they have been promoted into a role because of their technical expertise rather than their people skills. Without help, they will emulate the management styles that they see around them, or that they have experienced themselves in the past.

4. Train managers to spot the signs of stress

Less than half of the organisations surveyed for the CIPD report were providing mental health training – whether that was training managers to support staff or supporting employees themselves in building resilience. Managers need to be aware of the signs of stress in their teams so that they can step in and help as early as possible – whether that means lending a listening ear, adjusting someone’s workload or referring them to more specialist support. Training and resources to help managers spot the signs of stress are now widely available – and a growing number of organisations are also investing in building internal teams of mental health ‘first aiders’. HR are also in a good position to encourage line managers to adopt good working practices – such as having regular one-to-ones with their people and making a discussion about workloads part of the agenda for team meetings. Getting to know employees better will help managers understand what people’s stress triggers are and whether they feel secure and supported in their jobs – while open dialogue in the team will encourage people to share concerns and support their colleagues.

5. Encourage small ways to promote well-being

Sometimes it’s the small, seemingly insignificant things that can make a real difference to the way people feel about their jobs and their ability to cope when the pressure is on. HR has a role to play in encouraging positive practices that will have a real impact on engagement and well-being. It’s about making it clear that people are encouraged to take proper lunch breaks, leave on time and use their full allocation of annual leave, for example. Organising activities that bring people together, such as lunchtime walking groups, after work yoga or informal opportunities for employees to socialise with their peers can also help to reduce stress and make people feel valued and included. Being truly open to flexible working arrangements is also key. Full flexibility may not be possible for all roles, but there are very few jobs where it is impossible to introduce at least a small element of flex – which can often make a big difference to people’s ability to cope and juggle the demands being placed on them.

Want to find out more about how to deal with stress at work? Check out these three ways you can boost happiness at your company.

The post HR’s role in tackling work-related stress appeared first on Cezanne HR.

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Is understanding your staff’s career expectations high on your priority list? Research suggests it should be, with 68% of millennial workers citing a clear path to grow in their role as the most important factor to staying engaged.

Some may argue however, that the development of younger employees’ careers is a waste of company time and resources. After all, the joke about millennials not being able to stay put seems to be rooted in some truth – 43% plan to leave a job within two years, and only 28% plan to stay beyond five years, according to a survey by Deloitte last year. So why invest in workers who won’t stick around?

Well in actual fact, there’s still plenty organisations can gain from supporting employees with their career development, such as improving employee retention, supporting succession planning and helping to attract new talent.

So with this in mind, what can organisations do to manage employees’ career aspirations more effectively?

Have open career conversations

How often do managers in your business have honest and constructive career conversations with their people? Do they know what their employees’ aspirations are or what talents they may be hiding? If it’s not clear to employees how they can progress, it’s not unusual to find people sitting it out in roles that are way below their potential and where their skills are not being used.

Managers may kick back against performance reviews, but they are a great time to discuss where their people see themselves heading, how they could make best use of their talents, and how the business can support them going forward. Make sure the subject of career development is on the agenda not just at the annual appraisal, but also during informal check-ins. People are more likely to stick around if they feel they can talk openly about their ambitions, and that the business will do its best to support them in their goals.

Find out more about how to get the most out of performance appraisals.

Focus on the future

Chances are a high percentage of your employees have a view as to where your industry is headed, so why not use career conversations to help you build future-focused L&D plans? The world of work is changing faster than ever before, and tapping into internal knowledge, as well as external resources is bound to give you a more balanced vision.

And, if you are looking to broaden your horizons, the upcoming CIPD Festival of Work is the perfect opportunity to hear how other companies are stepping up to the challenge of employee development and retention.

Take a more flexible approach

Often, organisations are so hidebound by complicated pay and grading structures that they can’t promote people or expose them to new growth experiences even when they want to. HR and line managers need to think less rigidly about job roles, and collaborate in order to identify how they can best deploy the skills of their staff to meet people’s expectations and serve the needs of the business. One way of achieving this is to offer employees stretch assignments – i.e. the opportunity for workers to go outside the comfort zone of their job role and learn new skills whilst meeting the needs of the business.

If people can see that there is no way up – or opportunities to learn new skills – they will soon become frustrated and will start to look for an employer with a more flexible approach.

Give managers tools and support

Performance management is often not given the priority it deserves because managers find processes long-winded and time consuming – it gets shoved to the back of the list, and HR has to spend inordinate amounts of time chasing people to make sure appraisals happen. It doesn’t have to be this way. Sophisticated HR software is now available to take the strain, and help organisations streamline and bring consistency to processes. Systems can be set up to prompt managers when appraisals are due, for example. All the necessary forms can be made available on line and there’s a central place where information about what’s been discussed and agreed can be stored. Technology has moved on apace and these systems are now within reach of even the smallest business. Some solutions, like Cezanne HR, are extremely quick to implement and can be up-and-running in a matter of weeks, before the traditional year end/new year round of appraisals kicks in.

Take a creative approach to training and development

Lack of budget for training can be one of the key barriers to people developing their skills and moving forward. But development doesn’t have mean sending people on long and expensive training programmes. Organisations need to think more creatively about how they can help people develop the skills they need. Lunchtime learning bites, mentoring programmes, job shadowing schemes… these are all low-cost initiatives that can help people build new skills. The social portals that are integral to some of the latest HR software solutions can also support a ‘learning culture’ by making it easy for people to find the information they need and allowing them to share knowledge, work collaboratively on projects, and network across departmental boundaries.

Encourage internal hiring

Advertising job vacancies internally is a simple way of ensuring employees feel supported in their careers. Even better, directly recommending employees to apply for certain roles will further strengthen the relationship between them and the employer. Social portals can also be used for posting your internal vacancies, so that they’re available to all employees, rather than kept under wraps and creating tension and resentment.

And, you never know, you may find there are staff who have skills you weren’t even aware of and perfect for the role – meaning you can save a tonne on recruitment advertising.

What is your business doing to support employees in their career aspirations? Let us know what kind of initiatives are working well for you.

The post How to help your employees achieve their career ambitions appeared first on Cezanne HR.

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