Category

Human Resources

HR Myth 3- “Banter” is not sexual harassment

By Human Resources

Fact: Often a defense to a sexual harassment claim is “it was only banter”.

Time and again tribunals have rejected the notion that a harassment claim can be defended on the basis that sexist remarks were “only banter”.

 

 

Key case: In Driskel v Peninsula Business Services, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld a claim by a female manager that she had been discriminated against by her head of department when she was seeking a promotion.

Remarks from the head of department included that she should wear a short skirt and see-through blouse showing plenty of cleavage if she wanted to be successful during a promotion interview.

The claim was successful despite the head of department thinking that his comments were acceptable banter.

For advise and guidance on this or any other HR issues, call us today on the number below:

 

 

 

HR Myth: Employees must have at least two years’ service to be able to claim unfair dismissal.

By Employment Law, Human Resources

Unfair dismissal

In most cases, for an employee to be able to claim unfair dismissal, they have a minimum period of qualifying service with the employer. An employee must have been continuously employed for a period of at least two years if the period of continuous employment commenced on or after 6 April 2012.

A misconception by some employers is that this service requirement applies to claims in relation to any reason for dismissal. However, there are a wide range of reasons for dismissal for which there is no qualifying service.

An employer that is unaware of this may be lulled into a false sense of security believing that an employee does not have the right to claim unfair dismissal.

Claiming Unfair Dismissal

There is a list of reasons for dismissal that do not require the employee to have a period of continuous service with the employer to be able to claim unfair dismissal. These are dismissals that are defined in certain sections of the Act as automatically unfair and include dismissals for reasons related to:

  • protected characteristics i.e. age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, sexual orientationreligion or belief, and marriage and civil partnership as defined by the Equality act 2010
  • health and safety, such as reporting a health and safety risk or acting as a health and safety representative;
  • working time, such as refusing to opt out of the 48-hour week;
  • the making of public interest disclosures (i.e. whistleblowing);
  • the national minimum wage; and
  • trade union membership or activities.

If you’re still confused about what reasons for dismissal for which there is no qualifying service, then call HCHR today on the number below for a free ½ hour consultation:

Why Businesses Need An Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedure

By Alternative Dispute Resolution, Human Resources, Workplace Mediation

Mediation in the workplaceIf you’ve been working at the same place for a while then you’ve probably formed strong friendships with certain people, but kept others at more of a distance. This is only natural as we find our personalities matching or clashing with some colleagues; and in some instances, are irritated or annoyed by their behaviours or actions.

However, in the workplace, it is important that you and your work colleagues  behave amicably towards each other to ensure day-to-day operations runs smoothly.  The situation and atmosphere could become very difficult if you have consistently hostile feelings about someone you have to work with every day.

Unfortunately, this happens in hundreds of businesses on a daily basis, and can cause a number of issues if dispute resolutions procedures are not in place or used. Workplace conflict between two people can significantly increase feelings of stress, as well as reducing levels of motivation and commitment, which is bad news for any business. More than likely that the conflict will spread and begin to affect other employees; either making them feel awkward or uncomfortable at work, or drawing them into the conflict itself, further circulating feelings of stress or lack of motivation.

Are you aware of your dispute resolution service?

When people hear about workplace conflict, they may automatically think that conflict only qualifies as shouting matches or active hostilities between the parties involved. However, the most common behaviour reported in conflict is lack of respect, with shouting matches and other hostilities only visible in cases of extremely advanced conflict where a dispute resolution procedure hasn’t been followed.   So, it is important to  act quickly and take action to avoid the escalation to any extreme hostile behaviour.

But how do you resolve  workplace conflict? A lot of businesses and organisations will have their own dispute resolution procedures  e.g grievance procedure, mediation that explicitly state what is to be done to work towards resolving a conflict. Depending on the business and their resources, this could involve senior management, seeking third party help, involving the HR department, or other conflict management techniques.

It is important that all employees, at all levels, are signposted to the correct procedures within the organisation, so that they can actively follow this procedure at the earliest opportunity. Doing so could help to resolve the conflict at an early stage and before it escalates and starts to affect other people.

How does conflict and dispute resolution work?

There are a number of different conflict management techniques, and certain businesses might subscribe to any number of them, such as filing grievances, taking disciplinary action, or progressing to employee tribunals. These measures are official, arbitrary  and fairly final, but they often do nothing to quash the hostile and irrational feelings that conflict stirs, and rather just dictate the mandatory behaviour of employees for fear of rebuttal or dismissal. Alternative dispute resolution includes techniques and processes to come to agreement without entering into formal procedures or litigation, and are often far more successful at resolving conflict.

There are a number of alternative dispute resolution techniques, such as arbitration or negotiation, but the most common, and arguably most effective, is mediation. Workplace mediation should be carried out by a trained mediator, which can be someone from within the organisation, but is usually an experienced third party mediator.

Workplace mediation works by creating a channel of mutual communication between the parties involved in the conflict. This is a crucial part of the process, as  the mediator facilitates  and supports each party listens to the other’s point of view, which would likely not happen without a mediator due to  heightened feelings and emotions  lack of respect or dislike between each party. The mediator ensures that each party understands the other’s point of view, reasons and thoughts on the conflict, and the changes they want to see in their working relationship. Doing this allows clear and rational thought, and a two-way discussion can take place that paves the way for a mutually beneficial solution to be reached.

HCHR are experienced mediators having undertaken extensive training in workplace mediation services. We can provide a third-party mediator to help resolve workplace conflicts in business or industry sector, and are confident that a lasting solution can be reached no matter what the source of the conflict might have been. As well as direct mediation services, HCHR can offer updates to conflict and dispute resolution procedures, coach senior staff in how to deal with difficult situations, provide mediation services to complement your existing policies, and train managers or supervisors to identify and prevent future conflicts.

Call HCHR today on the number below to arrange a free ½ hour phone consultation to discuss your mediation and conflict resolution needs.

Potential Impact of a Hung Parliament for Human Resources

By Employment Law, Human Resources

Policy and ProcedureThe results of yesterday’s general election have left the country reeling!  We now find ourselves in a position where we have a hung parliament which instantly creates uncertainty in all industries, and HR is no exception.  Why?  Because planned changes to areas such as employment law and workplace policies are now completely up in the air.

An article published online today in People Management by Marianne Calnan, an employment law expert, states that: “Promise of ‘greatest expansion of workers’ rights in history’ now in question.”

The article goes on report, “Although the Conservatives won the greatest number of seats, the party has not gained the 326 required to get an overall majority in the House of Commons, raising questions as to which policies it will be able to implement.”  Read full article here.

We wait with interest to see how this uncertain picture will pan out and what impact it will have on some of the key employment issues as outlined in the above article.

Business owners who are unsure about employment law issues or workplace policies, can contact HCHR today on the number below:Policy and Procedure

Tattoo Taboo…a sign of counterculture or symbol of self-expression?

By Human Resources, Policies and Procedures

Tattto tabooIt seems that dress codes are never too far from the headlines these days whether it be regarding banning religious dress, requiring employees to wear certain dress or encouraging employers who ban tattoos at work to reconsider their approach.

It’s probably a fair statement that for years, many people associated tattoos with gangs, bikers, and other groups, however today, tattoos have gained wider social acceptance and more and more people, men and women alike, have them. Some credit this major trend to the number of athletes and Hollywood stars with lots of visible tattoos.  So, what’s an employer to do? Is body art a workplace issue? Does having a visible tattoo say anything about an individual that is relevant to their job?

Tattoo Taboo

Employers are free to hire (or to not hire) as they see fit – having a tattoo does not qualify you as having a protected characteristic under Equality legislation. But that does not change the stereotypes and perceptions of tattoos and piercings, and how that can have an affect on your business (and it works both ways – would you trust the work of a tattoo artist who didn’t have any art on their arm)?

Is it “acceptable” to turn someone down for a job because they have a tattoo in a visible place? If your company’s rules state that it is unacceptable for an employee to have visible tattoos, then the plain answer is yes. But here lies the key. Employers should be clear on what the rules and acceptable standards are, regardless of whether they allow tattoos or strictly forbid them.

Many employers have policies that do not allow visible tattoos. Depending on the employer’s industry and the type of job, this may make sense. For example, the odds are that a five-star hotel may not want the customer facing concierge to have large tattoos of skulls and crossbones on the back of each hand. But the same hotel may have less concern if a chef in the kitchen has those same tattoos because direct contact with the hotel’s customers is minimal. From a business perspective, the issue for the hotel is to write a policy that draws appropriate lines between jobs in which visible tattoos may or may not be appropriate.

Company Culture

Remember – there is always the potential risk that a tattoo or piercing may be religious which of course may open an entirely different can of legislation worms.

In today’s global marketplace, employers are taking more seriously the need to provide a work environment that welcomes employees from many different backgrounds. The competition to attract and retain skilled workers has resulted in corporate cultures that strive to demonstrate the value placed on individual and group contributions. And there is increasing attention paid to offering a company culture and benefit package that supports a variety of lifestyles. Should someone with a visible tattoo be treated any differently?

In drafting the policies, it’s important to stay focused on the business issues at hand. Policies that prohibit tattoos should not reflect value judgments about tattoos or the people who get them. In fact, many employers would likely be surprised to find out how many current employees have tattoos and simply cover them up at work. So negative assumptions about what tattoos say about the people who have them are very often misplaced.

What should you do to protect your business?

The best advice we can give employers? Make your rules clear and stick to them. Have a written policy, and make it explicit what the expectations are and then your staff will know where they stand. Whichever school of thought you are in, be it pro-tattoo or dead against, a policy stating this is the best place to start. If employees (or potential employees) do not sit in the same school of thought they are then free to make their own choices about what course of action suits them best.

What can HCHR do for you?

At HCHR we are here to help demystify the fog surrounding taboo subjects, by providing you with policies to clear the waters and get you on the right track as an employer and reducing the risk wherever possible.

For guidance on this or other HR matters, call us today on the number below:

 

 

Eliminating Workplace Misconduct

By Human Resources, Policies and Procedures

Mediation in the workplaceThe statement itself is a paradox.

As business owners and managers, you want to create workplaces where misconduct can’t thrive. However, translating this into practice is not always easy. Do you take the route of becoming policy police to keep organisation law and order or instead focus your energy and attention on organisation culture?

Organisation Culture

Ask yourself what is the culture of your organisation? What does it say about you as a leader?

As US Based Word Wide Technology states “culture is not just a poster.

Now before you start inwardly groaning, organisation culture isn’t all about chill out rooms, pool tables, rock wall climbing – or for you to emulate Mark Zuckerburg. Most people entering the workplace are looking for a positive supportive culture, which can take many forms and doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Indeed, it is proven that a caring work environment leads to happy customers — and it also leads to a workplace of minimal misconduct. So, what can your organization do to create a culture of trust, one in which employee misconduct is addressed as soon as it occurs? Here are our top tips…

Top Tips

  1. Proactively train managers to effectively communicate diplomatically and tactfully to their direct reports. They need to handle difficult situations in a way that fosters mutual respect. Equipping your managers to be able to handle difficult conversations in a constructive manner is fundamental to creating a culture of openness, honesty and integrity.
  2. Foster a supportive culture– rather than trying to prevent misconduct through rigorous rules, work to create a culture that makes employees feel supported and valued. Smart businesses realize that before they can effectively and sustainably compete externally, they have to be strong internally. Rather than creating an aggressive workplace in which employees compete against one another foster a friendly, team-oriented community that encourages everyone to succeed.
  3. Establish a strong anti-harassment policyestablish a strong anti-harassment policy, clearly defining misconduct and the consequences of engaging in this type of behaviour. The policy should prohibit harassment or offensive conduct in any form requiring all employees to report any offenses they observe, regardless of the perpetrator.
  4. Share your results – HR can often take a back seat to production goals or revenue reports, making it more challenging to promote the tools and systems needed to enhance company culture. To build support, you need to frame needs in business terms. How does proactively training mesh with company values?  What is the cost in legal fees for ignoring workplace misconduct? What are your employee retention rates?

Misconduct can’t survive in the midst of a strong culture and is far less likely to show up, and when it does, managers and teammates will nip it in the bud.

Organisations looking to develop a strong culture to eliminate workplace misconduct should seek advice from an experienced HR professional such the team at Swansea-based HCHR.  Call today for a free consultation on the number below:

 

Management Recruitment & the 5 things to look out for

By Human Resources, recruitment

Management recruitmentNo matter what industry sector you are operating in, if you are enjoying any form of growth, then you will need access to gifted recruiters in order to ensure that you recruit the best managers possible.  This approach should be part of your management recruitment strategy.

As an independent HR Consultant, working as an extension of my clients’ management teams, this is where I can come in; one of my specialties is in hiring and unfortunately …sometimes… firing!

My focus when going into any business​ is about incrementally building a team of professionals and leaders who will outperform where we stand today and be prepared to solve problems that we have not even thought of yet. I hire only ​ the best for my clients​; and this requires searching and ​ pursuing talent.​

Professional Management Recruitment

There are some key traits that as a professional recruitment expert I look for in candidates who set the benchmark for best-in-class talent acquisition:

  1. They understand  what the business is about, its demands and that the role that they are filling is imperative to their client’s business function.
  2. They are relationship builders, building relationships with each part of the organisation, and earn trust of their managers and their peers
  3. They are problem solvers as they realise that what is most important is the customer. They do not accept the status quo, and they are willing to point out challenges and obstacles, even when it is an unpopular choice.
  4. They are creative.They are leaders, innovators, and are skilled professionals​
  5. They are top performers.They have strong results that can be quantified, and they continue to grow in their career. They have data and analytics to show their success and continue to strive for improvement.

Measuring Success

As a recruiter, I want to hear about how you, as a manager, measure your success and how you change the game if results are not where you want them to be.

The supply of managers​ and leaders in talent acquisition is not limited; it is the demand for the best talent that makes these positions difficult to recruit. Once a potential match is identified, the pursuit begins. The hunter becomes the hunted. The challenge comes in the approach. Adept talent acquisition professionals have a similar toolbox, strategy, and skill set. When your talent pool is more qualified, more educated, more adept at strategy, and at a more senior level than your own, how do you engage them and create reciprocal interest?

The answer is authenticity. Authenticity is the most essential skill that will allow you to find the best and brightest. When I have conversations with people, (please note that I do not say interviews), I have no expectation, no sales pitch, and no desire except to seek to understand. There is no “sell,” no “close,” and there is only an exchange of information. There is a delicate balance that must be maintained; you represent the organisation but you also hope that this is an equal match for what the candidate hopes to achieve in their career.

Building Personal Connections

My experience has demonstrated that truly qualifying the needs and desires of your candidate will help you to speak with the clarity that compels them to listen and consider a potential change with an open mind.

I may be responsible for hiring, but I am not solely a recruiter. I am a matchmaker and a talent acquisition advisor. My role is not transactional; it is an exercise in building personal connections.

The reward comes when your newly hired manager is engaged and excited about their opportunity, wanting to make a difference in an organisation. The penultimate reward is watching them flourish and grow in their career.

If you’re a growing business, looking to recruit potentially talented managers of the future, then call me today on the number below:

talent acquistion

United Airlines PR Debacle and the Impact on HR

By Human Resources, Policies and Procedures

Policy and ProcedureBy now, most of us have seen the shocking images of unwilling passenger being dragged off one of United Airline’s airplanes. This comes in quick succession to the recent refusal of two teenage girls being let on board a flight because they were wearing leggings that violated ancient dress code rules. These negative incidences have spread across social media like wild fire and have cost the airline millions.

Now, if you’re not a flight attendant, you might be thinking “so what.” But if you’re involved in making or enforcing rules in your Organisation it’s time to realize that these types of incidences can no longer be allowed to occur. Because, taken together, these two rule enforcement incidents have dramatically and negatively impacted the bottom line, not just United’s brand reputation, but ticket sales and stock price.

Enforcing Company Policy

However, I am sure that the debate among Senior executives over the past few weeks has been on more global thinking.  Does enforcing the Company rule or policy have the potential for creating an ugly public event that could result in a damaging viral video or Tweet stream that might appear on social media? And if so, could there have been an alternative action with low PR consequences?

When most rules and policies are developed, they make perfect sense to the executives working at corporate headquarters. But because of the incidents at United, and recently Uber, we now know that enforcing these rules and policies often does not taking into account the possibility of a bad social media backlash…  and the bigger question is, should we?

Viral Social Media

We now live in a viral social media world, where even minor negative incident can be blown out of proportion and spread almost instantly.

And as a result, do you as rule-makers and us as HR professionals need to ensure that every existing rule or policy contains a clause that requires managers and employees to fully consider the possibility of negative social media publicity?

Assuming the spreading of negative corporate social media messages will continually grow as a problem these are questions that Executive’s need to consider in line with their corporate culture.  Do they take the hard line and drag people to task kicking and screaming (excuse the pun) or  do they adopt a policy limiting media fallout…?

For guidance on developing and implementing your organisation’s HR policies, then contact HCHR today on the number below.  We offer a free 1/2 hour phone consultation for all new clients:

Culture Vulture

By Human Resources, Policies and Procedures

 

These days, it seems like more and more companies are thinking about their corporate culture. A good culture is viewed as a solid strategy for driving job satisfaction and – ultimately – attracting and retaining the best and brightest employees in our increasingly competitive talent market.

So what does culture have to do with compensation? Turns out, just about everything.

Compensation practices are really where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Consider a company that has a large marquee in their lobby proclaiming, “Our people are our greatest asset.” If that company then pays in the lowest 10% of their talent market’s value, are they really living their culture? Likewise, if a company lists the core value of “work life balance” on their career website, does their paid time off (PTO) policy support that value?

Whether companies realize it or not, their compensation policies already underscore cultural pillars and either make them a reality ­­– or not.

If this blog has sparked an interest in any business owners, then call us today on the number below.  We can help you to develop a compensation policies that will help with employee retention by living your values:

 

Flexible Working

By Flexible Working, Human Resources

Working from home is a great perk.

Although sometimes its easy to get distracted  – perhaps the TV or the dog wanting to play ball.

Did you catch the viral sensation (20 million YouTube views in a week!) Professor Robert Kelly, comically the distraction came from his two young children.  And, comically, they did their thing during a live Skype interview on BBC News.

Moments into the interview Professor Kelly’s two young children burst into the room…. Click here though we’re sure you’ve seen it already!

Although Professor Kelly’s stoicism to carry on regardless and hope in earnest that this isn’t really happening is admiral  it highlights the challenges of flexible working. Working from home isn’t for everyone, ignoring the abundance of distractions both employees and employers lose the benefits gained from personal interaction across the team. It’s not for everyone and not for every business.

That said, 38% of millennials believe they do their best work outside the office. Flexible working has also become an identifier of a good employer, demonstrating  their compassion for employee needs – particularly for those with families or a difficult commute.

But to be effective, flexible working must be managed properly, a consistent approach in line with your documentation is recommended.

Need to know more about flexible working?  Call HCHR today on the number below:

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