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You may have seen our recent video with Jay Bhayani, talking about how discrimination applies to mental health in the workplace. One of the things Jay touched on in her video, was making reasonable adjustments at work.

I decided to talk about this in a little more detail, with employment law specialist Steven Azizi.

It starts by identifying what counts as a disability

The requirement for you, as an employer, to be making reasonable adjustments at work for disabled employees, is set out in The Equality Act. It says that you have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to support employees with disabilities, to help them carry out their jobs.

“A person is considered disabled if they have ‘a physical or mental impairment’ which has ‘a substantial and long-term adverse effect’ on their ‘ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’” explains employment lawyer Azizi. “This means that a mental illness, such as severe depression and anxiety, could indeed be a covered disability under the Equality Act.”

This means that a disability does not need to be visible, in order for it to be your responsibility to make reasonable adjustments. Therefore, Azizi advises pro-actively engaging in discussion, using the following six tips, in order to explore whether or not reasonable adjustments might be necessary within your place of work.

Taking a pro-active approach to making reasonable adjustments at work

Making reasonable adjustments at work is not a passive activity, according to Azizi. You should be actively seeking signs that employees might need a little extra help.

“Some employers seem to think that they only need to make reasonable adjustments once an employee approaches them to say they have a disability” he explains. “But actually, a lot of the responsibility falls on you.”

He says that there are six steps you should follow, as a matter of best practice.

Six steps when making reasonable adjustments at work
  1. Do not wait for them to approach you. This is especially true for employees who have a mental health disorder, says Azizi. If you perceive that an employee has a mental health disability, or if you have direct knowledge of this, then you should initiate a respectful conversation, without being prompted by the employee who is affected.
  2. Ask for medical documentation. This is not because you’re trying to prove or disprove an employee’s disability. Rather, it helps you to understand the nature and the extent of their disability, so that you know which adjustments might be best to make.
  3. Do not get hostile. Azizi notes that it is easy to feel defensive when faced with the need to make adjustments to your normal way of working. But you should treat each employee with respect, and remember that the reasonable adjustments will actually help them to perform their job better.
  4. Keep communications confidential. Unless specifically discussed and agreed otherwise, Azizi warns that conversations about an employee’s disability should be considered strictly confidential. Avoid disclosing details without the employee’s permission.
  5. Make it a two-way discussion. Don’t just dictate what you feel a reasonable adjustment might be. Let the employee make suggestions about what they feel would be a reasonable adjustment, too – after all, they are the one suffering the disability. Azizi says that you are not obliged to meet their exact requests – however, you should not ignore them, either. Consider each request carefully.
  6. Document your engagements. Beyond making sure you are pro-actively discussing these topics, and making it easy for employees to engage, Azizi says you should document the discussions that you have. This provides an audit trail, should anybody wish to question your approach, further on down the line.
Examples of reasonable adjustments at work

“It’s difficult to provide a good, general example of what a reasonable adjustment is” Azizi says, “because you should generally be tailoring these adjustments to suit the individual. This is more than just a tick-box exercise.”

However, there are a few common examples of reasonable adjustments at work, which employers have used over the years to support employees with disabilities:

  • Providing an assistant
  • Altering the work environment for accessibility
  • Altering the work schedule
  • Reassignment to a vacant position for which the individual is qualified
  • Providing additional equipment or devices
  • Offering assistive equipment such as readers or interpreters
  • An unpaid extension of paid or unpaid leave
  • Allowing assistive animals in the workplace
  • Changing supervisory methods (e.g. dividing complex tasks into smaller parts)
  • Offering additional training
  • Providing an adjustment or modification of examination, training materials or policies
  • Modifying an employment policy
  • Offering working from home opportunities

For more information about making reasonable adjustments at work, you can visit the article by ACAS here.

The post Where to start when making reasonable adjustments at work appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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To complete the series of video lectures I’ve been collecting for you, all about mental health at work, we have a special video from Employment Law specialist, Jay Bhiyani.

In this video, Jay talks about discrimination against mental health at work, and about some of the policies and procedures you should put in place. And not just for the purpose of protecting your organisation against a lawsuit, but to also provide a better working environment for the people you employ.

Jay Bhayani is the founder of Bhayani HR & Employment Law, and has over 25 years’ experience, dealing with all aspects of HR and employment matters. She specialises in complex and sensitive issues.

If you’re not sure why we’ve been publishing a lot of mental health at work content recently, then you should watch my video about

The post Avoiding discrimination against mental health at work appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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Last week, I shared a video of myself talking about why you should talk about mental health in the workplace. This week, I’d like to follow that up, with a video from ex-Mental Health Nurse, Stacy Thomson, who is here to talk about how we should be changing the narrative on mental health in the workplace.

In this video, Stacy talks about how the phrase ‘mental health’ does not only apply to the mentally ill. And actually, we all have ‘mental health’ – it exists within all of us, as a sliding scale, that can even fluctuate daily.

Stacy Thomson is now part of The Performance Club – a business dedicated to helping enhance mental health and wellbeing.

If you enjoyed Stacy’s words, you might also enjoy watching Professor Sir Cary Cooper share his thoughts: How to build a culture of employee wellbeing.

The post Changing the narrative on mental health in the workplace appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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There are three reasons why I believe you should start the conversation about mental health in the workplace. These reasons are:

  1. Mental health problems are growing and evolving
  2. We don’t always see the signs until it’s too late
  3. Talking about mental health will not create a mental health problem

On the 10th April, I gave a live presentation as part of The Future of People Conference 2019. During my presentation, I explained the above three points in full detail, in the hope that it might encourage you to start a conversation about mental health in the workplace.

The above video is a live recording of my presentation, exactly as it was broadcast on the 10th April.

If you enjoy the above video, you might also like to see our interview with Professor Sir Cary Cooper, about wellbeing in the workplace.

The post Starting the conversation about mental health in the workplace appeared first on The People HR Blog.

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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.

Why?

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?
Wrong.

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

Why?
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.

How?

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.
Why?

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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