Category

Human Resources

Indirect Discrimination

By Human Resources No Comments
This article was written by Heather.

Heather Cooper Mediation Article

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

The recent, controversial, coverage of Marks & Spencer’s policy of allowing members of staff to refuse to serve customers buying pork or alcohol has worried many employers.

marks and spencer indirect discrimination

Most employers have a clear understanding of their legal obligation not to discriminate unfairly when recruiting staff. However, their understanding of equality legislation becomes more hazy when faced with the possibility that, by applying a policy or practice, e.g. checkout staff handling all types of food and drink, it is possible that they are indirectly discriminating against employees whose religion or belief conflict with that procedure or policy.

Avoiding Indirect Employee Discrimination

So how can employers embrace diversity, respect the varying beliefs of employees, and focus on meeting the ever changing demands of the business and its customers?

Swansea-based HR Specialists, hchr, have come up with the following guidelines for local businesses facing these difficult decisions.

Whenever you receive a request from an employee to vary their working terms and conditions, or a challenge to any policy or procedure, you should:-

• Keep an open mind
• Listen, without making any decision.
• Gather the facts. What is the objection? Why? And what is being proposed?
• Think creatively and constructively.
• Is the request workable? How does it affect the business and other staff?
• Is there a legitimate business case to refuse the request?
• Meet to discuss the issues, and allow the employee to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union official. Present your business case and provide an option to appeal your decision.
• Always seek advice from an HR or employment law advisor about the legitimacy of the business case for refusal.

M&S clearly listened to, and demonstrated respect for, the individual’s belief and found that they were able to design a working method that was suitable for both the individual and the business. Each business situation is different and every case must be weighed up on its own merits. Other employers do not have to come to the same conclusion as M&S. It is complex, but providing a fair procedure is followed common sense should prevail.

Contact HCHR - 01792 234761

Retained Service

By Human Resources No Comments
This article was written by Shakira.

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Only the other day we were in the same boat as you.

The dilemma of weighing up the pros and cons of taking on a retained support contract. The process was enlightening and what we have learnt we are now applying to our own service.

Typical Business Model

Our Board is made up of a Managing Director, Finance Director and Junior Partner not unlike the hierarchy that applies in most businesses. We each come from different backgrounds and so balancing three different viewpoints and methods of working isn’t easy. However for me, what I found interesting is how we each measured success or, indeed, our return on investment.

Retained service board room

What do we get for our money?
What happens if we don’t use the service?
What if they don’t produce the goods?
How long are we tied in for?
What happens if the service doesn’t meet our needs?

This got me thinking about the process our clients go through when they choose us as their HR provider and how successful are we in demonstrating value for money to our clients.

How does hchr differ?

I know what work we do, I know we go above and beyond providing the ‘added extra’, but do we communicate this to our clients? The answer is no. We get the job done with the clients’ best interests in mind, but with my rose tinted glasses removed, I can’t help think that we are doing ourselves a disservice. In the competitive business environment that we operate it’s our modus operandi or ‘different service’ that sets us apart from our competitors. We should be singing this from the rooftops rather than trying to swim with the big fish in the HR corporate pool. We aren’t about glossy brochures and call centres; we are about rolling up our sleeves to get the job done.

So what have we learned …
• To be ourselves! We are providing a human approach to human resources that’s what makes us different
• Be clear about the service we offer, timescales and delivery
• Make sure clients understand they are not tied in to onerous contracts
• Ensure that we understand and meet our existing and future clients’ expectations
• Ensure we understand and respond to the ways that our clients are measuring our success
• Understand that a retained service isn’t right for all clients, and sometimes building a relationship on an ad hoc project basis is more beneficial for both parties.

This is not rocket science and it is nothing that I haven’t said before when sitting across the table from a Chief Executive or Board of Directors. The difference being now that my experience of the shoe on the other foot, I am more mindful of the different needs and driving forces sat around the Board room table, which are not so dissimilar those in our own hchr Board room.

Contact HCHR - 01792 234761

Managing Staff Retention

By Human Resources No Comments
This article was written by Heather.

Heather Cooper Mediation Article

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

It used to be the case, that when people embarked on a career, they could expect to remain with the same company for many years; most of us will know of people who retired after thirty years service or more, and collected a gold watch or some another token of recognition. However, gold watches are in short supply these days, and employees are more likely to receive a good luck card and a book token after a whip around from their colleagues! So, is it such bad thing that staff move on after relatively short periods of employment? Some staff turnover is desirable and to be expected, but how do you avoid unnecessary staff turnover?

How to increase staff retention

Staff Retention Starts Before Hiring Employees

At the outset it is important to attract the right staff, therefore adverts and job descriptions should be accurate and realistic. Doing this will enable you to match the skills, knowledge and personality profile you need. Just because a person is highly qualified, it does not mean that they are the best person for the job.
Once the person is in place then they will need to feel welcomed. By taking time to give an effective induction will allow them to know what is required of them and to understand how the company operates. Setting objectives lets people know that they are achieving their goals, and allows employers to measure achievements and identify areas where further training or information is needed.
Open up opportunities for development where people want to learn more skills. This shows that you want to invest in them and their future with the company. However, never force people into developmental roles if they want to remain in their current position.

Longer Term Staff Retention

Allow employees to have their say through regular appraisals, staff surveys and grievance procedures, as well as through consultative bodies. When staff feel secure and stable in a fair and consistent working environment, and know that they can speak up without fear of retribution, their morale will be greatly boosted.
Adopting flexible working hours is another huge morale booster, especially when employees have caring commitments, such as young children or elderly parents. Being sympathetic to these needs will make you an attractive company to work for and help you to retain staff.
External factors too can have an impact upon staff turnover so protect your business from head hunters and others seeking to poach your staff. Keep internal e-mail addresses confidential, and train telephonists to spot calls from agents and avoid giving them information.
Conducting exit interviews will enable you to find out why people are leaving, in order to help with retention next time. Also, measuring turnover will allow you to identify trends and problem areas.
The secret to staff retention is to understand and meet the needs of employees whilst fulfilling the requirement of the company. There are no quick fix solutions to staff retention, but the costs associated with activities listed above are insignificant when compared with the cost of staff turnover, a conservative estimate of which is c£5,000 per employee.

If you would like to know more about cost effective recruitment and retention please contact Heather today at heather@hchr.co.uk.

Contact HCHR - 01792 234761

How Do You Manage Conflict in the Workplace?

By Human Resources No Comments
This article was written by Heather.

Heather Cooper Mediation Article

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

How do you manage conflict in the workplace? Is it working? Is there a better way?

Mediation resolving workplace or HR conflicts

An Alternative Dispute Resolution model is Mediation, championed by ACAS, because it offers the very real prospect of a long term, win – win, solution for any of the following:-

• Conflicts over working practices.
• Interdepartmental conflict over scarce resources.
• Conflict arising from individual behaviour/relationships.
• Conflicting perceptions of performance/personalities/relationships.
• Allegations of discrimination, or unfair or unequal treatment.
• A severe breakdown in communication (which tends to be the manifestation of some of the issues listed above).
• A grievance or disciplinary situation, although in certain circumstances mediation may be unsuitable (see our e-book for more information).

Why should HR conflicts be resolved?

Where a workplace conflict has been long running, the original source of the conflict may no longer be relevant or may be reconcilable. However, the process of mediation enables the parties to understand each other and restore the working relationship going forward.

Conflict is complex. Conflict deskills us. It can undermine trust and respect in working relationships, increase absence, and erode efficiency. How often do we see grown adults seemingly behaving like children over a workplace dispute? The solution to which is obvious to all, except those involved in the conflict. Or is it? There are many well-meaning managers who bear the scars from stepping in to help, and the solution still eludes the parties. However, the solution is rarely predictable by an observer, and the quest to provide a solution is one of the main reasons why untrained, well-meaning interventions are not working. The process of mediation is very different.

What is mediation?

Our qualified (mediation council) mediators focus on the warring parties individual and specific needs; helping them to communicate their concerns, focusing the interaction within an agreed structure. Reframing the content of what is being said into terms that relate to the parties needs, enables the parties to “hear” the other party and be “heard” themselves, probably for the first time. Sanity/adult behavior returns and the parties determine their own win-win solution, or a way of working together effectively for the future. The process is profound and can normally be completed in at least a third of the time taken to address the matter via the formal grievance process.

We can:-
• Conduct mediations on client premises.
• Draft policies/update existing policies to embed a culture of resolution.
• Provide qualified mediators to supplement in house mediation schemes in large organisations.
• Help organisations to set up and establish internal mediation services and recommend a suitable training provider.
• Coach managers in how to deal with difficult conversations.
• Broadening the range of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) and CR (Conflict Resolution) options and services.
• Draft memorandum of understanding, if required.
• Subject to the constraints of confidentiality, we can advise on cultural issues and coach managers to identify future conflicts, and take appropriate action to prevent escalation.
• Provide a post mediation action plan to support parties, to identify conflict, and to deploy defusing strategies to retain harmony.

If you wish to discuss the mediation services we offer, and find out more, then please call us on the number below, or email Heather at heather@hchr.co.uk.

To find out more about mediation, please enter your details in the sidebar to download our e-book, ‘A Free Guide to Mediation in the Workplace’.

Contact HCHR - 01792 234761

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