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By the time you read this, the Myhrtoolkit team will be setting up our stand at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition in Manchester Central (Its stand D106 if you’re interested). There will be more than 5,000 HR and L&D professionals in attendance, needless to say, it’s the biggest event in the HR calendar.

If you’re going as a delegate, you’re in for a treat, with loads of great talks and networking opportunities. I challenge you to spend some extra time perusing the exhibition hall and take in the sights and sounds.

If, like us, you’re actually exhibiting, by the time you’re on site, it should be plain sailing, as long as you’ve done your prep and got your sales patter down.  Effortless as it may look on the day, preparing for an exhibition is a significant task.

It’s clear from a tour of the exhibition hall, that a great deal of thought goes into stand design.  Some exhibitors engaging professional designers, others adopting a DIY approach.  Generally, it’s quite hard to tell.  Each year there are a wide variety of new ideas and not a small amount of “I wish we’d thought of that”.  Bigger is certainly not always better with some smaller firms coming up with some brilliant and ingenious ideas.  What never ceases to surprise though is the number of stands where despite considerable study, it is not at all clear what the business actually does – maybe that’s the idea, forcing the more inquisitive delegate to engage with the stand personnel?  With regard to how much text to put on your stand; the current consensus seems to be that less is more.  Listing every feature your product or service entails, may be satisfying for the completists amongst us, but to the passing delegate, it can often be plain confusing.  So, you’ll see many stands clearly displaying one or two key messages.  That said, we’ve heard reports of our entire carefully developed brand being summed up post show as “oh, you lot with the blue stand”.

It is also true that unless you are a genuine household name, your logo / colour scheme alone, is unlikely to gain much recognition.  Provenance however is always good, so get your client logos in plain sight; the more recognisable the better.

How much should you think about how you talk about your product; especially in an exhibition content?  Although a few delegates are happy to discuss at length, often you have a few minutes to get your message across and stand out from the competition.  Partly this will also be driven by your company culture, do you sell, or do you tell, do you blow your own trumpet or not?  However you choose to do it, make sure you avoid jargon or your own internal refences; key here is to ensure that your stand team all understand what is and isn’t common parlance in the outside world?

If you want to play it safe, at least on first meeting to keep it simple by focussing on the 2 or 3 key things that your service or product offers. Even better perhaps is to be more consultative, and spend the time you have understanding, what need your offering will satisfy or what pain it will make go away.

Lastly, a few thoughts on capturing customer information. There’s nothing worse than a promising discussion with a seemingly interested prospect only for them to leave without you finding out who they were.  A business card is ok as far as it goes but does not convey much about the conversation or follow up.  Some people prefer the click-click data scanners whilst others rely on good old paper forms.  Scanners are quick and easy, but sometimes the data obtained can be limited in scope and in some cases untruthful as delegates attempted to evade unwanted post show marketing attention.  Paper forms need to be simple and quick to complete, otherwise you get back to base and that all your hard work has yielded is lots of partially completed forms.

We’re really excited to be at the conference and exhibition, it’s a real highlight of our year. We pride ourselves on being ‘people people’ and the opportunity to be at the number one place where we can catch up with old friends, as well as enthuse in person about our toolkit and how it can transform SMEs HR process’.

Follow us on twitter to follow our time at the show!

The post myhrtoolkit at CIPD 2018 appeared first on myhrtoolkit.

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Sid has a chronic mental health condition which requires him to visit his doctor and psychotherapist once every week. Taking one sick day every week has made his Bradford Factor score looks really bad. He has explained his condition to his manager who hid behind the stale one-liner “we all need to adhere to the company’s policy; the rules are the same for everyone”. As Bob’s Bradford Score reached a trigger point, he received a dismissal letter blaming his persistent absenteeism for this action.

Well, on the face of it, this looks a fair dismissal but Bob argued that it would be better if his employer supported him to resolve his underlying issue and helped him be more productive.

We do agree that no employer wants employees calling in sick every now and then. It’s a real pain. With a looming deadline or a dependency for a critical skill, this means others have to pitch in to complete absentee’s work in addition to their own to-do list. However, in the current times when diversity and flexibility are becoming the new norm for unleashing worker creativity, how much of the stringent attendance measures like Bradford Factor hold strength.

Though most managers do care about the well being of their employees, they are suspicious of someone taking repeated one-off sick days. These short, frequent and unplanned periods of absence are more damaging to the business than the long-term absence. Employers view Bradford Factor as a tool to tackle these unauthorized absences.

While this numeric tool has been in practice since 1980s but the big question today is whether this scale is still useful and relevant in the modern flexible workplace.

As more and more empirical evidence indicates that employees who feel trusted by their employer to manage how and when they work for themselves can improve their levels of productivity, it emphasizes that policeman-like measure such as Bradford Factor may potentially erode the employee trust in the employer.

Given the increasingly flexible nature of work today, with many employees frequently working from home, cafes or co-working spaces, Bradford Factor resonates more with McGregor Theory X that believes that employees dislike their work and have little motivation, therefore encourage authoritarian style of management. In this scenario, Bradford Factor may work best by controlling, forcing and threatening people to come to work but it does not help create a productive environment where people give their 100%.

The world of work is enabled by so many forms of technology that workers are no longer requires to be glued to their work stations. Employees can work seamlessly – answering emails while sitting at their child’s sporting event, taking a client call from the comfort of a coffee shop next door or starting their work day early in the morning to fit a dental appointment in the afternoon, using their laptops, iPhones, tablet and smart watch without a glitch. This was unthinkable three decades back when Bradford Factor was conceptualized.

Instead of over-monitoring and micromanaging employee attendance, employers need to focus their energies on building positive atmosphere based on trust, transparency and accountability. Some employers are also deploying employee assistance programs and occupation health services to encourage employees to stay healthy. Managers must look into the underlying reasons for excessive short-term absences and hold conversations with their team members to support and resolve their issues. This will help foster self-empowerment and deepen employees’ connection to the organization, thus drive desired business impact.

The post Is the bradford factor still relevant? appeared first on myhrtoolkit.

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In the World of Work today smart device communication features are replacing our physical conversational capabilities with texts, emails and instant messaging. Whether you are stationed at a brick and mortar office or part of the virtual gig economy, cellphones, tablets and notebooks are frequently robbing us from opportunities to connect in person with our peers and co-workers.

Our methods of communication are so overly efficient that the effectivity thereof is often lost in digital translation. We are experts at multi-tasking, but lost our ability for asking. To do lists, projects and strategies are being addressed online, instantly without breaking a sweat, yet the essence of the message is hardly expressed.

Too much rhyme? Perhaps, but hopefully, the message sinks in: our modern day technology designed to facilitate instant communication and collaboration in real time and across continents is the causal factor to the Epidemic of Loneliness.

The Loneliness Epidemic

In a recent Harvard Business Review, former Surgeon General of the USA cites work loneliness as an escalating health epidemic: “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.”

In January this year, Theresa May created a new ministry, you guessed it, the Minister of Loneliness. However ridiculous this may sound, research has shown that over 9 million people in the UK suffer from this loneliness disease.

Ever heard the saying: It’s lonely at the top”. Although research affirms this statement, new studies indicate an ever more substantial proportion of those employees ‘’at the bottom’’ of the corporate food chain, suffering from office loneliness too.

Responsibility Issues

The general narrative regarding workplace loneliness places the responsibility for preventative and reactive solutions firmly on the part of companies, employers and those in authoritative positions. Expert advice to employers include suggestions of employee assistance programmes, creating fun cultures and ramping up the social event schedules.

Unfortunately, these ideological inclinations often fail at the practical execution stage. How excited are you about the upcoming year-end function? Did you enjoy the last parkour team building event?

My point exactly. The truth of the matter becomes clear when looking at all those lonely horses (employees) refusing to be lead to the waters of engagement by their companies and managers.

Loneliness and isolation cannot be forced from people’s emotional state of being by the companies we work FOR. However, we can take responsibility for it and alleviate the epidemic for ourselves and the people we work WITH.

Counteracting Workplace Loneliness

Herewith 12 tactics you can implement today to combat workplace loneliness tomorrow.

As a bonus, your actions may just create a ripple effect on others dealing with the same issue:

1) Develop Offline Connections

Mentally unplug from SMART devices a few times during the day. Your phone or tablet can do without your constant attention. Switch off all notification settings for a bit and become more aware of what is transpiring in the office setting around you. Reaching out to a more tenured staff member for advice could be the beginning of a valuable mentoring relationship. On the other hand, if you are that seasoned member of staff, why not take a lonesome “deer in headlights” newbie under your wing?

2) Small Beers at the Pub

Make time to celebrate the successes of the team or even individual personal milestones of co-workers by organising impromptu get-togethers. A quick a beer or cappuccino after work reinforces existing relationships and act as informal gatherings of inclusion to the wallflowers and socialites in the team.

3) Walk The Mile

In someone else’s shoes that is. The art of mastering empathy starts with being a good listener and affording the other person your undivided attention. Refrain from starting a serious conversation with a colleague that wants to pour out their heart to you, if you only have five mins until the next meeting. Also initiate action without asking: If you know your colleague is burning the midnight oil, having coffee ready at her desk when she arrives in the morning will do wonders to lift her sense of isolation and yours too from her appreciation.

4) Move Those Desks

Are you sitting with your back to your colleagues just because of the office layout? Sit on the other side of your desk even if temporarily for a short period to encourage ‘’face time’’ with those around you. Better yet, move your desk if possible to amplify the perception of being more approachable. Depending on the size of the team (and the amount of paperwork and pot plants on your desk), something like musical chairs every few weeks could be an option to encourage connections between different members of the team. This is not primary school; therefore you don’t need to sit next to the same person year in and year out.

5) Remove Your Earphones

Get out of the music bubble every once in a while, or permanently if you can. If someone had the option to engage with another person, the one with earphones connected to his or her brains 24/7 would not be a top choice.

6) Get Up from your Chair

Instead of posting on your digital wall, have an actual conversation with a co-worker or two. Also, emailing or texting someone sitting less than 10 yards away will do nothing to alleviate your sense of isolation – get up and engage in conversation.

7) Go on a Lunch Date

Of course, meaning a professional one with a co-worker or team member. “If you want to be part of that tribe or organisation, you have to contribute to it,” says Pauline Rennie-Peyton. Don’t wait to be asked to lunch, ask someone out to lunch. This may entail temporarily ‘’divorcing’’ your work spouse to connect with other colleagues. 

8) Muffins & Maltesers

Food is not just the way to a man’s heart…..bringing any form of sustenance (muffins are foolproof) to the office will transcend any lone ranger into a popular butterfly. Moreover, don’t forget the allure of a big glass bowl of Maltesers on your desk to attract attention and conversation from others. 

9) Join In or Join Together

Does your company sponsor a sports team like volleyball or action cricket? Join in and have some fun with your colleagues. Alternatively, find an activity that you always wanted to do like learning another language or becoming part of a book club and then invite your co-workers to participate with you. Informal co-worker groups together participating in events or leisure activities is a great initiative to break down boundaries and pull people out of isolation.

10) Buddy Up

Finding an “office bestie” is not just a nice to have nowadays. “Do you have a best friend at work?”, is one of the questions Gallup poses to survey respondents to determine overall Workplace Wellbeing. According to their research study employees with strong social connections at work make more discretionary efforts with their jobs resulting in better motivation, engagement and increased performance levels. 

11) Networking

Attending networking events, whether it’s a business breakfast or Q&A webinar is especially conducive for remote workers and freelancers to ‘’step away’’ from their isolated environments and have some human contact with others (even if its digital).

Stop tweeting, start speaking

Industrial Revolution 4.0 is reminiscent of unequivocal advances in communication technology, collaboration ingenuities and instant digital dialogue mechanisms. We communicate more than ever before, with our fingers doing the talking via texts, likes, shares, posts and tweets.

Loneliness in the workplace can only be eradicated by making a concerted effort to redevelop our social (not social media) skills and learn how to interact with our peers and co-workers. Choosing conversation over mere observation will provide those crucial incidents of social contact during our workdays at the office.

What are you waiting for? Speak now or forever hold your ‘’tweets.’’

The post The Workplace Loneliness Epidemic appeared first on myhrtoolkit.

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With an ageing population, and 67 being the current retirement age for many, it’s time for businesses to acknowledge a changing workforce and invest in supporting older workers.

With nearly a fifth (18%) of the population aged 65 and over, the health and safety and indeed welfare of colleagues has never been more relevant.

The importance of the matter was recently addressed in a government study. The ‘Future of an Ageing Population’ report outlined that enabling people to work for longer will help society to support a growing number of dependents. It is however reliant on “Supporting fuller and longer working lives, removing barriers to remaining in work and enabling workers to adapt to new technologies and other fundamental changes…”

So, how can small businesses address these changes and use them to benefit the workplace? Here we look at a few considerations:

Bridging the Digital Gap

Older workers need to be encouraged to stay up-to-date with technology, least of all because they are less likely to participate in learning than other groups. It may be hard for a senior staff member to admit they have gaps in their knowledge, or may feel vulnerable through their admission. Which is why it’s important for employees to be sympathetic, supportive and proactive when it comes to training. By offering training across the board, to all staff members regardless of position and age, can help to bridge the gap. It may be as simple as offering training to use Online HR tools, or learning how to take notes using an iPad, rather than simply assuming everyone knows how to use them.

Wellbeing at Work

Wellbeing at work has been the buzzword of recent times, with health and safety at work more important than ever. With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge throwing support behind mental health charities, it has brought to light some of the issues surrounding employee welfare.

Providing both physical and mental support is important for a happy workforce. It’s something all companies should strive towards, and can be encouraged with regular breaks, supporting lunch times away from desks and offering access (or discounts to) gyms or exercise facilities. Regular one-on-one meetings with colleagues is also a good way to keep on top of any issues.

Masterclasses

A great way to show the value of an older worker, is to invite them to host a masterclass on their area of expertise. Not only is this beneficial for a workforce, but it’s motivating for older colleagues to show where they can add value. A work environment that promotes respect and shared learnings sends out a positive message to other employees, and makes it a place people want to work.

Communication is Key

In these millennial-focused times we live in, it’s important to address the many people that make up a workforce, and the value they bring. While younger colleagues have the benefit of fresh thinking on their side, it’s also important to recognise the experience and contacts that more established workers bring. Some workplaces have ‘buddy schemes’ offering reciprocal mentoring; whereby a younger colleague is partnered with an older one, and they both offer support to each other in the different ways they can. The younger ones may be able to help with digital guidance, while older ones more behavioural support, for instance.

Flexible Working

Today’s lifestyle has evolved with the times, but has your company? Offering flexible working hours, which includes part-time working, enables businesses to retain great staff. Not only should it be available for return-to-work parents, but it can add years’ on to the end of a person’s career, by allowing them to work at a preferred pace.

MyHrToolKit.com is a one-stop destination for Online HR resources, providing a reliable and up-to-date software for small business. Enjoy a free trial with one of the UK’s leading HR Software Providers today.

The post Supporting older workers appeared first on myhrtoolkit.

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The Gender Pay Gap Reporting (GPGR) deadline of 4th April 2018 has now passed. The report, requested by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, called for all charities and public sector bodies, as well as all UK-based organisations with over 250 employees, to report on salaries and bonuses offered to male and female employees.

The results revealed that eight in 10 UK firms pay men more than women, with a current median hourly pay gap of 9.8%. It was also reported that on average, certain sectors have much bigger pay gaps than others. US-based firm Apple reported a 25% pay gap, way above the UK average.

Here, we look at what SMEs can learn from GPGR so far. Plus, how the Real Living Wage is picking up momentum, as progressive organisations move towards creating fairer workplaces.

 

How does GPGR Affect Small Businesses?

 GPGR matters

Although not required to file results just yet, SMEs should work to understand how their current pay structure fits within a wider context. Especially alongside bigger organisations who have already submitted their findings.

Get ahead of the chasing pack

Although not required by law to submit data, shrewd SMEs can make their own assessments now. They can make their own calculations — using payroll data to create a report of the organisation’s current gender pay gap status, as well as stating their ambitions in writing as to how they will improve gender equality.

Positive PR

If an SME’s pay gap figures are good — with no pay gap at all — they can generate a positive PR story that’s pleasing to internal stakeholders, existing and potential employees. The media might pick up the story too, casting a good light over the business that’ll benefit both in the short and long term.

 

What Can SMEs Learn?

How similar companies are doing

From the initial report, SMEs can learn how their pay gap compares to similar companies. The April 2018 results revealed businesses in education, construction, finance and insurance have the biggest current inequalities. This indicates more men are employed in top-level higher-earning positions in these sectors, taking up big salaried jobs on these organisations’ executive boards.

How to develop a culture of inclusivity

By revealing what their employees are earning, SMEs can open up the conversation about pay. But while the GPGR data suggests that women are badly represented at boardroom level, this doesn’t mean SMEs must immediately employ more women. Instead, SMEs must look to develop an inclusive culture that stretches far beyond pay. Of course, pay equality is central, but so is creating a workplace of fairness where employee well being is central to everything the organisation does.

What About the Real Living Wage?

Fairness and honesty are key in a growing business, and SMEs must be transparent about what they’re paying both genders. In addition to the National Minimum Wage (£7.38 for under 21s) and National Living Wage (£7.83 for over 21s), the Real Living Wage, a scheme where employers are encouraged to pay fairer hourly salaries to all, is gaining traction.

The Real Living Wage, currently £8.75, is calculated each year to meet the real UK cost of living. Ikea, Nationwide and Oxfam have all signed up and are accredited Real Living Wage employers. Companies that sign up not only ensure employees are being treated fairly. Offering employees more than the minimum spreads a message of fairness and equality, with positive ramifications all round.

In fact, 58% of Real Living Wage employers say that paying it has improved relationships between employees and staff, whilst 86% say it has improved the reputation of their business.

“The first step on the road to creating fairer and more equal workplaces”

Amber Rudd, former Minister for Women and Equalities, said: “Businesses should see reporting gender pay gap data as just the first step on the road to creating fairer and more equal workplaces across the UK.”

Find more helpful advice on creating a fairer workplace for all employees on our blog or follow myhrtoolkit on Twitter.

The post Gender Pay Gap Reporting: What Can Small Businesses Learn? appeared first on myhrtoolkit.

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Sid has a chronic mental health condition which requires him to visit his doctor and psychotherapist once every week. Taking one sick day every week has made his Bradford Factor score looks really bad. He has explained his condition to his manager who hid behind the stale one-liner “we all need to adhere to the company’s policy; the rules are the same for everyone”. As Bob’s Bradford Score reached a trigger point, he received a dismissal letter blaming his persistent absenteeism for this action.

Well, on the face of it, this looks a fair dismissal but Bob argued that it would be better if his employer supported him to resolve his underlying issue and helped him be more productive.

We do agree that no employer wants employees calling in sick every now and then. It’s a real pain. With a looming deadline or a dependency for a critical skill, this means others have to pitch in to complete absentee’s work in addition to their own to-do list. However, in the current times when diversity and flexibility are becoming the new norm for unleashing worker creativity, how much of the stringent attendance measures like Bradford Factor hold strength.

Though most managers do care about the well being of their employees, they are suspicious of someone taking repeated one-off sick days. These short, frequent and unplanned periods of absence are more damaging to the business than the long-term absence. Employers view Bradford Factor as a tool to tackle these unauthorized absences.

While this numeric tool has been in practice since 1980s but the big question today is whether this scale is still useful and relevant in the modern flexible workplace.

As more and more empirical evidence indicates that employees who feel trusted by their employer to manage how and when they work for themselves can improve their levels of productivity, it emphasizes that policeman-like measure such as Bradford Factor may potentially erode the employee trust in the employer.

Given the increasingly flexible nature of work today, with many employees frequently working from home, cafes or co-working spaces, Bradford Factor resonates more with McGregor Theory X that believes that employees dislike their work and have little motivation, therefore encourage authoritarian style of management. In this scenario, Bradford Factor may work best by controlling, forcing and threatening people to come to work but it does not help create a productive environment where people give their 100%.

The world of work is enabled by so many forms of technology that workers are no longer requires to be glued to their work stations. Employees can work seamlessly – answering emails while sitting at their child’s sporting event, taking a client call from the comfort of a coffee shop next door or starting their work day early in the morning to fit a dental appointment in the afternoon, using their laptops, iPhones, tablet and smart watch without a glitch. This was unthinkable three decades back when Bradford Factor was conceptualized.

Instead of over-monitoring and micromanaging employee attendance, employers need to focus their energies on building positive atmosphere based on trust, transparency and accountability. Some employers are also deploying employee assistance programs and occupation health services to encourage employees to stay healthy. Managers must look into the underlying reasons for excessive short-term absences and hold conversations with their team members to support and resolve their issues. This will help foster self-empowerment and deepen employees’ connection to the organization, thus drive desired business impact.

The post Is the bradford factor still relevant? appeared first on myhrtoolkit.

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