EMPLOYEE ENGAGMENT – WHY BOTHER?

Article by Jackie Richards 19.09.16

You’re a busy small business owner, running around trying to be everything to everyone to ensure your business thrives, but what about the staff you’ve left floundering back at the office? Do you think they will be motivated if they never get to see their boss, for help, reassurance and most importantly, a bit of praise now and then for all of the hours they’re putting in for you?!

 I have worked in all sectors during my 20+ years in HR and have seen many disengaged employees for usually similar reasons, the main ones being as follows:-

  • They have been in the same job doing the same thing for many years and lack motivation;
  • They are in the wrong role but too afraid to admit this and look elsewhere.
  • They have poor managers who do not care about what they are doing, so do not make the work interesting, or show an interest in their employees;
  • In some workplaces, people are being bullied by insecure managers but they don’t have the courage to speak up about it;
  • Lack of communication within organisations – the people at the top don’t communicate what they are doing and where the company is heading, so the staff don’t feel involved in the bigger picture.

And all of these factors result in reduced productivity and hence revenue – I’ve seen a lot of companies who are ‘surviving’ but could do so much better if they focused on the most important asset they have – their people. 
Some of the above might not apply to you, but I’m sure you can relate to one or two there? And putting it right does not have to cost the Earth. Here are some suggestions on how to motivate your people, so that they look forward to coming into work and want to do their very best for you and your company:-


1. Communication – In any business it’s important to ensure two way communication. Employees need to feel that their voice and concerns are heard and if needed, action is taken. You should tell them your plans for the business and listen to their opinions, as the more involved they feel, the more committed they will be to the company.

If possible, have monthly team meetings to give your employees updates on the company’s progress and ask for ideas for new products or services, or improvements that can be made to existing ones – this will encourage innovation and creativity within your team. You should view your team as a family working together to achieve a common goal and let them know that too.
 
2. Trust your staff – give them some autonomy and/or responsibility for their work. If they are doing a good job, this will be an inexpensive reward – recognition for their efforts and some people are motivated by status. Find out what motivates each employee, as it will be different in each case and then work with that to get the best out of them.

 
3. Training and support – don’t assume that once you’ve recruited someone they will ‘hit the ground running’ – find out exactly what they are capable and then fill in the gaps with some training and support. This doesn’t have to be by you, it could be by one of your employees with as much or more experience than you in the area required and support them by asking them how they are getting on and if they need any further help.

 
4. Recognition – give praise where praise is due and if it’s something exceptional, thank them publicly for their efforts and give them a small reward – it does not have to be anything excessive, but a token of your appreciation will go a long way! We are all human and need praise from time to time, so encourage a culture of employees congratulating co-workers for their achievements, so working relationships remain healthy.

George Dickson at Office Vibe has recently posted The 12 Things You Need For Successful Employee Recognition which provides even more tips on doing this for free, the link is below:-

https://www.officevibe.com/blog/12-things-successful-employee-recognition

 
5. Offer incentives to high performers – they don’t have to be expensive rewards, just a bottle of wine for your top performer of the month or a gift voucher, anything to show appreciation will incentivize them to keep performing at that level, or indeed higher, to beat the competition.

 
6. Constructive feedback – if someone has done something wrong, take them into a private office and discuss it with them. Try to start the meeting with a positive – “You’ve been producing some good work recently, but …..” Don’t chastise them, ask them why they did made the error and what they think they can do to put it right. Work together to find a solution and they will feel more motivated to ensure they don’t make that mistake again.

 
7. Employee wellbeing – in a start-up everyone has to ‘muck in’ and do what’s required to win business, but at what cost? Is an employee really going to be productive and sound motivated on the phone to your potential customers when they are exhausted and feeling unappreciated? Make sure you ask employees regularly how they are feeling to ascertain whether the long hours are affecting them, make sure they have breaks and take time off wherever possible in your quieter periods. As in my October blog: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/workplace-stress-things-ever-going-get-any-better-richards-mcipd?trk=mp-author-card workplace stress can lead to a number of ongoing mental health problems which will result in reduced productivity and absenteeism costs in the long run if you do not nip it in the bud!

8. Employee benefits – if as an employer you can’t afford to pay high salaries or reward high performers by increasing their salary, there are some very inexpensive benefits schemes out there now for small businesses. Paybooster UK offer flexible health and wellbeing packages to employers costing as little as £52 per year per employee. For more information visit http://www.PayBosterUK.org

 
9. Have fun! – we are in work a long part of our day, so the workplace should not be all doom and gloom – introduce humour at times (appropriately, of course!) to liven things up, encourage brief chats about home to help staff relax and get to know each other better, or go out and buy staff cakes or icecream on a hot summer’s day – all these little things make a difference to making people happy and happy = productive.
 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog

 

Jackie Richards MCIPD

Owner/HR Consultant

JR-HR Solutions

T: 07807 166456

E: jackie@jr-hrsolutions.com

W: http://www.jr-hrsolutions.com
 

Thanks to Author and Thought Leader Vlatka Hlupic for the inspiration to write this blog

Thanks to DesignTec for the image

 

 

What does your LinkedIn headshot say about you?

Article by Sandra Garlick 15.08.16


LinkedIn is a powerful and successful tool for networking.

I have gained new clients, made new contacts and used the platform as an introduction for face to face meetings. Of course there are many other things that make LinkedIn the success it is today.

One thing that many people who have LinkedIn profiles fail to get just right is their head shot or profile picture. I am not saying that mine is perfect, but it has several key components that I look for when I connect with someone:

1. A smile…Straight away the picture gives the impression of someone friendly and approachable.

2. Eye Contact…By looking straight into the camera there is immediate and engaging eye contact. I am always wary of people who appear to be looking into the distance on their profile shots.

3. Head and Shoulders…You can clearly see your features. It also makes it easier to recognise someone you may have met or may wish to meet in the future.

4. Professional…Beach shots and those holding an alcoholic beverage in non-work mode demonstrate a lack of professionalism. LinkedIn is a professionals’ platform

5. A Photo…There are still a large number of profiles on LinkedIn which have no professional photo or indeed any photo at all. This demonstrates laziness. If, for security reasons, you are unable to post a picture of yourself online then a logo is the very minimum.  

It is so easy to get a professional head shot today, and at minimal cost. Even a profile picture taken with a smartphone is better than no photo at all.

I no longer connect with anyone who doesn’t have a head shot. If I know them personally, I send a gentle reminder that they may wish to include one.

Sandra Garlick is a Business Growth Consultant, Mentor, Public Speaker and Trainer

Follow Sandra on Twitter @SandraGarlick

http://www.sandragarlick.com

Daniel Browne’s Top Five Tips to Burn Away Anxiety

Article by Daniel Browne 08.08.16

As a hypnotherapist, one of my specialisms is in the area of anxiety. After experiencing crippling anxiety in the past, it’s now a mission of mine to help others to burn away their anxieties for good. With that in mind, here are my top five tips to help you burn away your anxiety.

1. Meditate rather than medicate. In my view, GPs hand out pills like they’re sweets and don’t do enough to help people overcome anxiety. Medication only masks anxiety; it doesn’t cure it. However, meditation is a great alternative that can genuinely help you to feel good on the inside. So give yourself the gift of ten minutes alone each morning and evening so you can sit down, close your eyes, breathe, allow yourself to relax, and feel the positive energy within you.

2. Tell yourself that feelings are not facts. This can be a hard one as negative beliefs are part of anxiety, but it’s important to challenge those beliefs. You may feel low self-worth or shame because of your anxiety, but it doesn’t mean you actually are any of those things that you think you are. So, my task for you is to look in the mirror each morning and say one nice thing to yourself out loud. Give yourself a compliment and tell yourself what you actually are. Negative thoughts always come before negative feelings, so start the day with a positive thought about yourself and let that shape how you feel for the rest of the day.

3. Attend a social event, even if you don’t want to. Are you going to let your anxiety win or are you going to tell it to do one? Being an introvert is ok, but it’s good to connect with other people socially. Your anxiety may be socially related, which could make this tip difficult for you, but you may find that you enjoy yourself once you’re out. If you have a friend who knows about your anxiety, tell them to force you to go out. It’s for your long term benefit.

4. Accept your anxiety. In order to overcome your anxiety, you need to accept it. This doesn’t mean that you give into it and fall deeper into the cloud of anxiety; it’s more about understanding the anxiety that is a part of your life and then working on a strategy to reduce or overcome it.

5. Know when to get help. If anxiety is having a detrimental impact on your life, it’s important to know when to ask for help. This could be speaking to a friend or family member, or it could be going to see a therapist. Either way, know that you are not alone and that there are people who can help you.

Daniel Browne is a hypnotherapist with practices in Warwick and Evesham. Discover more at http://www.daniel-browne.co.uk.

Mentoring and Motorbikes

Article by Tarnya Brink 03.08.16

So now you are wondering what on earth mentoring and motorbikes have to do with one another.

Let me give you some context. When I take off my business suit, I put on my protective gear and get on my 650 Kawasaki Vulcan S and whenever possible together with my husband and/or sons, who all ride too, we go out for a couple of hours on the bikes. Whilst this could be a stressor for some people, this is my stress relief (or mid-life crisis perhaps J )

With my suit back on, one of the parts of being an HR consultant I love, is being able to develop and mentor people and run programmes that enable others to mentor people.

So, how are my two passions aligned? I am currently undertaking an Advanced Motorcycling course through Coventry Warwick Advanced Motorcyclists (CWAM), accredited by the Institute for Advanced Motorcyclists (IAM), and as I was writing a proposal for an advanced mentorship workshop for a client, my husband pointed out the similarities.

I develop and run business mentorship programmes, which can be used to support different types of development within companies:

– People new to their role or company, where a mentorship programme can support induction

– People aspiring to move from good to great in their current role, who may or may not aspire to management or further role progression

– Managers who are qualified and experienced, and want to become tomorrow’s leaders of their business

The IAM course follows the same principles of any good mentoring course:

1. A clear aspiration to achieve your goal

2. An assessment to ascertain what level you currently perform at, against clearly set out criteria, followed up with an effective one-page report

3. Being realistic about the time and pace that progress will happen. Am I going to finish in 3 weeks – No, 3 months – hopefully.

4. Working with a single mentor to make progress at a steady pace that you dictate, but having access to numerous other people for support (and in the business sense, sometimes skills or knowledge that the primary mentor doesn’t have)

5. Clear feedback in a positive manner – instant verbal feedback, followed up with a written sheet against the criteria from your initial assessment so that you can track your progress

6. Support – demonstrations (where appropriate), additional support material, clearly identified areas to practice/develop

7. Clarification where necessary

8. Ultimately, getting ready for the final assessment to see whether or not you have achieved your goals

One of the principles of this course is that you already hold a license, and have some riding experience. For my qualified and experienced group of mentees, this is no different. If I was working with a group of Directors/Partners in a Professional service firm and they wanted to mentor their managers, those managers will already be qualified and experienced. The aspiration is to develop the leaders of the future and to add to their current skills set, perhaps change a few of those comfort zones and bad habits they may have picked up along the way, and at their own pace develop them into reaching their full potential.  

 

One comment on aspirations. Understand why people want to aspire to what they have set as their goal right at the start so that the programme can be bespoke to them. Help them to visualise what that will look like at the end of the programme, and allow them to set their own individual aspirations.  

Some people are great in the jobs they do, don’t want to become managers, but are put into positions that they subsequently fail in – this is because it wasn’t their aspiration to be a manager in the first place.

 

So why am I doing the IAM course? I aspire to be the best and safest rider that I can be using the techniques that have been reinforced by my mentor which statistics show results in the significant reduction in serious accidents and injuries to those who have achieved Advanced status – why wouldn’t you want to do it.  

 

If you are interested in discussing mentorship programmes in the workplace, please contact me at tbrink@sagegreen.com​

 

If you are a biker in the Coventry & Warwick area, please have a look at the website http://www.cwam.org.uk/, not only is there the course but some super social rides exploring the countryside with very experienced riders. With thanks to my mentor and all the other great people I have met at CWAM.

And this is the site for IAM (offering Advanced courses for motorists and motorcyclists) https://www.iamroadsmart.com/

 

 

 

Workplace stress – are things ever going to get any better?!!

Article by Jackie Richards 01.08.16

Not that old chestnut again, I hear you cry! But this problem is not going away, in fact it seems to be getting worse! 

According to research from Russam GMS, 80% of senior executives say the workplace is a more stressful place than five years ago, with three quarters blaming mobile technology for creating a more stressful environment.  

60% of those respondents stated that their employers expect them to answer emails outside of work hours and a fifth of respondents said that “switching off from work at home” is their biggest challenge in terms of looking after their health.

Other contributors of stress included more demanding financial targets, the pressure to be on call 24/7 and email which ‘makes things relentless.’

 At the same time, more than 80% of senior executives said their company has no procedures in place for recognising stress in the workplace.

 Fewer than 15% of organisations reported they openly discuss stress in the workplace and/or offer stress counselling or mentoring programmes.

Failing to look after the health and wellbeing of employees has been shown to contribute to stress. The Health and Safety Executive report that 11.3 million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2013/14, an average of 23 days per case and the Centre for Economics and Business Research has suggested the cost of work related stress to the economy is £6.5 bn!

70% of the respondents said that a company would be a more attractive employer if they offered more health benefits, and almost a quarter said they would prefer more health and well-being benefits to a pay rise.

However, many of Britain’s workplaces are failing to offer even basic health benefits with a quarter of companies offering no benefits at all. Almost two thirds (65%) don’t encourage employees to take regular breaks from their desks.

According to the research, the top health benefits people would like are measures to encourage cycling, running or walking to work, mindfulness sessions, fitness classes at work, meditation and yoga sessions, plus more health advice available on the intranet. Of those that do, the top four benefits are private health insurance, cycle to work schemes, encouraging lunch breaks and subsidised gym membership.

Ian Joseph adds: “Putting benefits in place to help employees be healthier and less stressed is crucial. These don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Initiatives such as having fruit in meetings, encouraging people to take regular breaks from their desk and allowing them time to visit the gym can contribute to people’s good health and support their well-being.

“If organisations are going to be fit for the future, leaders need to recognise the issue of stress and do something about it. Setting expectations about the use of mobiles and unplugging from emails during holidays is something senior executives should be doing as matter of course and leading by example.”

People Management published an article in July this year entitled ‘Mental Health: it’s crunch time’, in which Tony Irwin, MD of Priority Wellbeing Centre claimed that “A French worker works four days a week to produce the same amount as a British worker produces in five, despite – or because of – France’s much shorter working hours”.  

I have always viewed a culture of long working hours as being counter-productive. Business owners should be improving efficiencies and utilising their staff in different ways (for example, job share, flexible working, homeworking) to help maintain their health and wellbeing and hence increase productivity within their organisations. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. 
Jackie Richards MCIPD

Owner/HR Consultant

JR-HR Solutions

T: 07807 166456

E: jackie@jr-hrsolutions.com

W: http://www.jr-hrsolutions.com

 

How to use a Twitter Networking Hour in 5 simple steps. 

Article by Gary Jones 20.07.16

Hello Everyone!

For the last two years I have been running Leamington Hour every Wednesday between 4-5pm. It regularly has over 50 businesses on it and we focus on engagement and connecting as many people as possible. 

I regularly get asked what is an hour and how do you use one so here is my guide to using an hour. 

What is a Networking Hour? 

A networking hour is an hour where people meet up and talk about a particular interest or location on Twitter. 

They use the symbol # to link up the tweets and to talk to other people on the hour. They are sometimes called hashtag hours as well. 

The great thing about these hours are that everyone wants to connect and engage with people on there. They are all brought together over a particular location or interest. For instance you can visit #BrumHour to engage with people in and around Birmingham or #WeddingHour for contacts, information or suppliers about weddings. 

There are hundred of hours available so here are a few do’s and don’ts to be aware of on any Hashtag Hour. 

5 things to do on a networking hour. 

It’s easy to join in-

1. Find out if your interest or location has a Hastag Hour that you want to join and make sure you know when it is. 

2. Say hello to the hour host and use their hashtag in every tweet. 

3. Then just talk to people. It’s exactly the same principal that you would do in a face to face networking meeting. Include the #Leamingtonhour (if you are on mine) and then your conversation will go into the timeline. 

4. Favourite and Retweet any messages that you like and carry on talking to people.

5. Follow anyone who you like and talk to them after the hour. It is all about the follow up as well as being on the hour. 

It’s really that easy! If your still not sure then why don’t you come along to any hour and just read the timeline for the first time. 

Some hours are busy and some are fairly quiet. You can use both to your advantage just by being engaging with people and asking questions. 

5 things NOT do on a networking hour

1. Just sell to people and send out buy my stuff tweets. 

2. Automate every tweet and don’t engage with people. 

3. Insult people on the hour by your views, insights, prejudices or poor spelling grammar.  

4. Go on just once and never go on again. You need to invest time and talk to the hour and get to know the people on the hour over a few weeks/few months. 

5. Dismiss them on don’t give them a go in the first place. They are excellent to get to know people in a particular interest or location. 

If you want to ask me any questions then please let me know at @LeamingtonHour. We meet on Twitter every Wednesday between 4-5pm and I would love to see you there. 

All the best and see you soon!!! 

How to tackle your bullying boss!

Article by Jackie Richards 06.07.16

Did you know………that 75% of employees indicate that an immediate supervisor’s management approach causes the most stress in their jobs (“Good Boss, Bad Boss” by Bob Sutton, Business Plus)

 There is a lot of press these days on bullying in schools and the odd tribunal case concerning bullying and harassment, but I’m sure from my experience, there is a lot more bullying going on in the workplace than we are made aware of.

I am writing about this not with my HR head on (although it will have an influence, having been in the field for over 20 years!), but from a personal perspective. I have met 4 people during my career in senior HR positions who I would class as bullies and I am going to share with you the most painful experience I had with a direct boss, who was a HR Director.

At first we got on very well, she encouraged me to develop my skills and praised me on my achievements. She admitted she was not a good trainer and did not know what coaching was(?!), but I had sufficient experience and knowledge to perform without this and she gave me support when it was needed.

However, as time went on and I was gaining more confidence and credibility with the staff, things started to change. She began to patronise and undermine me when given the chance, taking credit for the work that the HR Assistant and I had produced with very little input from her. She became lazy, treating us like her PAs and the HR Assistant in particular found her aggressive nature very unsettling at times.

So I decided to challenge her about it and her response at first was ‘Oh, I didn’t realise I was doing that and didn’t realise how I’d made you both feel’. But then a few weeks later when she’d had time to further digest what we’d discussed, she read out to me a two page, patronising document, using the metaphor of me as the sous chef to her master chef, basically explaining that I should not be so sensitive and when she is stressed, she is entitled to behave in the way she does, as she is the boss!

 After that our relationship began to deteriorate further, with us only speaking to each other when we needed to, which made me feel awful for our HR Assistant, as the atmosphere in such a small office was far from pleasant at times! So, I tried a different tack, to build bridges and occasionally pamper her ego when I needed something from her (when I could manage to swallow enough of my pride to do this!). This worked for a while until the next chance she had to undermine me and then we were back to square one! I then dug my heels in and thought ‘I’m not going to let her win, I am not leaving’. I began keeping a note of our ‘exchanges’ and I kept a copy of the essay she had written to me before, with a view to reporting her to our harassment advisor. However, after going through all the possible consequences of this action, I realised that the anit-harassment advisor group was something that she had set up and co-ordinated, so I didn’t think I would get very far with that one?!! 

So, I had 2 or 3 more miserable months of surviving in this frosty atmosphere, using the psychology that this wasn’t about me, it was about my boss and her lack of ability and self-esteem. But then the work started to deplete through reduced headcount and my up-skilling of managers – I had worked myself out of a job! So at this stage I decided I should start looking for another job. Then, I received a complete bombshell – I was made redundant to reduce costs! This was a small company and so the part-time Director wasn’t earning much more than me, but I was told there was still a need for a Board level Director there, which shocked everyone, considering the organisation only had a headcount of 100?! Then during the redundancy process, I was treated even more appallingly, being made to do any menial tasks that my boss desired to keep me there during all of my notice, just in case some big issue arose, so that she didn’t have to deal with it! So I walked (I had less than 2 years’ service so wasn’t owed any redundancy pay) and sent her a lengthy e-mail explaining why I was doing something so out of character, copying in the Chair of the Board and CEO.

So, the moral of this story is, you can try to tackle your bullying boss, but if as in my case, you don’t succeed, then think of your health and sanity – they are far more important than working for someone who does not appreciate you and could potentially damage your career – life is too short!

 However, on a positive note, this Director gave me more confidence in my abilities and strengthened my resolve to become a self-employed HR Consultant, so that I don’t have to be managed by someone like her ever again!

 

Thank you for reading my blog
 Jackie Richards MCIPD

Owner/HR Consultant

JR-HR Solutions

T: 07807 166456

E: jackie@jr-hrsolutions.com

W: http://www.jr-hrsolutions.com

 

 

 

 

Are you attending the right networking events?

Article by Sandra Garlick 20.06.16

When you start out in business it is often tempting to attend every networking event you can find. It is often referred to as “He/she would attend the opening of an envelope!” We have all done it in an attempt to make as many contacts as possible in order to fill those long days ahead with new clients and ultimately work.

However, this can have a few negative implications:

• Your marketing budget dwindles fast.

Not all networking events are free and if you have to pay a membership as well as an attendance fee, these soon mount up. It is important to have a budget for networking and to stick to it.

• It may give the impression you have no work. 

If you are out every day networking, when are you actually doing all your work? So many times people introduce themselves and say what they do, followed by a statement that they are so busy…networking. Great if it’s your business but if not it tells another story.

• You increase your waistline! 

 If you attend breakfast, lunch and dinners regularly, you may soon start to see an increase in weight. There are only so many cooked breakfasts you can eat in a week. So ask for a healthy alternative if you find your diary full of events with meals included.

So how do you find and choose the right events to attend?

1. Ask others for recommendations about good events to attend. They may even invite you along as a guest. It is often better to attend an event where you know someone or know something about the event in advance. It can also save you time and money.

2. Take a look at Eventbrite for events that are happening in your local area. It is wise to start locally to build up your network. This keeps travelling time and costs to a minimum.

3. Ensure that you leave time in the week for actually doing your work. If you are out networking all day every day, when are you going to earn the money to pay for it? Plan your week so that you have sufficient time to deliver your work and work on your business.

4. Are breakfast, lunch or evening events best? This largely depends on your capacity and whether you have other commitments. You may not be a morning person. You may have childcare or caring responsibilities. If you are a morning person and breakfasts work for you, that leaves the rest of the day clear.

5. Where will your clients be? Many people often overlook this and just attend events that they like, which is great. However, if you are never going to reach your clients then why are you going?

6. Look for events that allow you to visit a couple of times before you pay a membership. You need to ensure that the event is right for you and your business. If your target client is not going to be there, are there people attending who could introduce you to your ideal client?

7. Try and find free events. There are many of them around and advertised on groups and pages via Social Media.

8. If you have already visited an event and didn’t enjoy it, make a note not to visit again. In fact, make a brief note after you visit every event so that you have data to refer to. It is surprising how easy it is to forget if you are doing a lot of networking.

9. Choose events that resonate with you. You are far more likely to feel comfortable and confident when you attend. There is no point attending an event where you feel uncomfortable as this will show over time. Are you paying a monthly fee for an event which you rarely attend?

10. Think about attending events where you can meet a lot of people in one go. For example, attending a Business Expo will give you the opportunity to browse, connect and network throughout the day. These events are usually free to attend.

11. Include social events in your calendar. It is surprising how many contacts you meet at parties, weddings and on the golf course.

Once you have identified which events work for you it is a good idea to stick at them for a while. Whilst you may attend a networking event and pick up a new client straight away, it is rare. It is more important to build up relationships and trust over time. Once you secure a client, make sure you record where you met them. You will then build up a data trail of which events are working for you.

Happy networking!

 

Sandra Garlick is a Business Growth Consultant, Mentor, Public Speaker and Trainer. Sandra is also the Founder of the Woman Who…Awards. Sandra will be exhibiting at the Kenilworth Chamber Business Expo on Friday 24th June at the Holiday Inn Kenilworth from 9am-3.00pm. Entry is free.

http://www.sandragarlick.com

@SandraGarlick