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5 Simple Steps to Superb Employee Engagement

5 Simple Steps to Superb Employee Engagement

Reduced staff turnover. Improved productivity. Fewer sick days. These are just some of the advantages employee engagement brings to businesses.  

Improving your people’s engagement levels doesn’t need to become a mammoth task. There are lots of straightforward ways to enhance engagement and gain all those lovely business benefits. Here are our top five simple steps to help you achieve superb employee engagement. 

 

#1 – Listen and Change 

When employees dread coming into work, you can guarantee your engagement levels are on the floor. To prevent colleagues experiencing that heart-sinking feeling, it’s time to find out what’s holding your people back so you can take action.   

I often suggest setting up set up face-to-face discussion groups to explore the challenges impacting employees. Ensure people know that there won’t be any repercussions for expressing their views. After all, the more honest they can be, the better for your organisation. 

Prevent sessions from turning into moan-fests by asking people to suggest the kinds of change they’d like to see. By involving employees in the solution, you’ll get them on side and enthusiastic about change. 

Then create a plan of action, delegate tasks and report back on the impact to employees. By taking their views seriously and demonstrating that change is happening, you’ll turn attitudes around, boost engagement and make your business more productive too. 

 

#2 – Share Good Practice Between Teams 

Recognition comes in many forms and holding up examples of fantastic work methods is one. Identify which individuals, teams or departments are excelling in what they do and ask them to share their practices. 

Not only is this a great way for employees to see their ideas and methods being praised but it will raise the performance of other teams too. This kind of peer-to-peer learning makes a refreshing change from more formal styles of training and it also fosters engagement and creates or strengthens links between your employees. 

 

#3 – Meet Different Demographic Needs 

With five generations in the workplace, employers must grasp the different focuses and tendencies between the generations in order to keep everyone satisfied. By understanding the way that each cohort thinks, you’ll have a good grasp of how to change your organisation to meet employee needs. 

This could mean expanding your employee benefit offering to cater to people in different age brackets. Or placing a greater focus on green and ethical issues or providing flexible working options. 

That said, it’s important not to shoehorn everyone in a demographic bracket into the same pigeonhole. After all, a millennial with a family and one without will have very different priorities. Which leads us on to the next point. 

 

#4 – Treat People Like Individuals 

The days of one-size-fits-all is well and truly over when it comes to people management. Yes, processes and policy still need to be in place to ensure you’re treating people legally, fairly and equitably. But the rise of individualism in society at large has spilled over into the workplace. Which means you need to treat each individual as, well, an individual. 

One way to better understand your employees is to ask each team member to complete a free online personality test. Based on tried and trusted psychological principles, 16 Personalities provides valuable insight into individuals, their preferences and approaches to relationships and work. 

Get each team member to take the test and present the most informative aspects of their personality to the rest of the team. It’s a great way to be more open about what individuals need and will help managers better engage with their staff too. 

 

#5 – Get Social 

Personal relationships are a key ingredient in employee engagement. Like any team, people who understand and care about each will pull together and go the extra mile to support one another. And by doing so they’ll also support your business. 

A simple way to generate closer bonds is to sponsor a range of social events like: 

  •  Giving managers a budget so they can take their team out for lunch or dinner 
  • Hold a party 
  • Get employees involved in fundraising events 
  • Launch volunteering days where your team gets to work together away from the workplace 
  • Celebrate every employees birthday 
  • Hold sporting events or start a lunchtime walking club 

 The options are pretty much endless and you can ask a colleague to take charge so the initiatives are employee-centred rather than a top-down idea. 

Employee engagement doesn’t need to be difficult. By gaining a better understanding of your people, their needs and preferences, you’ll help everyone better connect with their colleagues and their work. As a result, commitment will soar making engagement a win-win for your employees and your business. 

For a helping hand with your employee engagement, talk to Olga at Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk. 

 

Sharing Success Through Incentives

Sharing Success Through Incentives

When you want to encourage staff to raise their game you can turn to carrot or stick. Most businesses take the carrot approach by offering employee incentives to enhance performance. In this article, we explore the range of incentives available, we take a look at employee share ownership schemes and consider what you need to think about when introducing incentive schemes.

There’s Plenty of Choice When It Comes to Employee Incentives

There are three main categories of employee incentives ranging from less to more formal schemes:

Appreciation

Letting your staff know you value them can be achieved in many different ways including staff parties, team building days, family events, birthday celebrations and team lunches to name but a few. These one-off activities can often be provided in response to a specific achievement, like a team delivering a major project milestone successfully. Or they can become part of the way you engage staff and create a pleasant and appreciative working environment. For example, by providing a cheese board or cake to celebrate birthdays. 

Recognition

Thanking employees for their hard work via a monetary reward of a simple vote of thanks is a great way to ensure employees’ ongoing engagement. Recognition often takes the form of a company-wide recognition scheme that rewards a framework of specific activities and/or behaviours designed to support the business’ strategic objectives. 

Recognition can also include programmes like: 

  • long service awards that reward loyalty to the organisation usually for milestones like 5,10, 15 years of service and beyond
  • employee referral schemes that encourage staff to introduce job candidates – this helps the organisation save on recruitment costs, a proportion of which is passed on to the staff member making the referral

Compensation

Pay increases aren’t always about keeping pace with the salaries other companies are paying. Compensation can be used to reward top performers for their contribution as well as ensuring your business retains their services. 

Bonuses are another, less expensive, way to reward individuals as – unlike a pay increase – bonuses do not increase the cost of the individual’s benefits like pension contributions. Bonuses are usually calculated on the basis of the business’ and the individual’s performance as a percentage of employees’ pay. More senior employees with greater impact on the business tend to be entitled to larger bonuses than less senior staff.

Profit sharing is another option that we’ll explore in more detail next.

Employee Incentives Ownership Schemes

As a business owner you have a vested interest in how well your business performs. But if your employees turn up simply to secure their base pay and their job, they have less reason to care about your business’ success. That’s where employee ownership schemes come into play. 

They allow employees to acquire shares in a business giving them an additional financial reason to care about the performance of your business. The better the business does, the more individuals’ shares are worth. Which provides an added employee incentive for staff to enhance their performance and productivity.

Big businesses like Royal Mail, ASDA, Tesco and Morrisons all provide share ownership schemes for their staff. But this doesn’t exclude smaller businesses from offering these kinds of programmes as there are a range of schemes – including tax efficient options – available. 

Employee ownership schemes fall into three categories:

  1. Share option schemes – employees can buy shares at a set price on a specific day. 
  2. Share gifting scheme – your company can choose to give shares to staff for free. The shares are usually held in trust for a period of time.
  3. Share purchase scheme – where staff can buy shares in the company, normally at a discounted rate.

Most schemes require staff to hold onto their shares for a fixed period of time – this makes it more likely that the share price will increase providing larger payouts and it also supports staff retention as any profits are usually forfeit if staff leave before the vesting period.

What Should You Employee Incentives Be?

Employee incentives should reward activities and/or behaviours that support your business’ goals for the short and long term. However, incentive schemes can have unintended consequences, so you need to carefully consider what you want to reward people for. 

Employee ownership programmes need careful communication to ensure staff understand how the scheme works and how they can impact the business’ – and therefore their shares – performance.

Any programme needs to be communicated clearly and should have transparent processes and rules so all staff have the opportunity to engage effectively with the scheme. This will also ensure you get the best return on any payments you make.

Setting up an employee incentive scheme can be tricky so it’s worth working with an experienced HR consultant to ensure you consider every angle including the legal and tax perspectives. 

For support incentivising your employees, get in touch with Olga on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

 

Past it at 40

Past it at 40

I was very shocked to read that in today’s modern ‘Politically Correct’ lets not offend anyone, totally inclusive, non judgmental (stay away from Twitter), liberal society, women are considered to have reached the peak of their careers at 40 and men at 45. That’s nice isn’t it? A mere 18 years (for women) and 23 years for men (on average) into our working lives we are considered done, has been’s. For most of us who have at least 20 – 25 years left to work past the age of 40, that’s an awful lot of years left to go on a downward work spiral. 18% of the UK population is aged 65 and over!

To listen to today’s politically correct media you would be forgiven by thinking that only the young in their 20’s and 30’s can invent and be innovative. So consider this, Henry Ford was 40 when he established Ford and 45 when he invented the Model T, Charles Darwin was 50, Samuel L Jackson was 46 when he hit the big time, Penicillin was discovered by a man aged 46 Alexander Fleming who was rewarded for it when he was 56 some 10 years later.

With age comes experience and a level of calmness, you’ve been there, seen that, made the mistakes and found the solution and that is very valuable indeed. More experienced employees are not past it, set in their ways, far from it, today’s 45 – 60 year old’s started work when email wasn’t even around never mind the internet, most of them didn’t have a mobile phone until their late 20’s early 30’s – so imagine the changes they have seen and dealt with that millennial’s couldn’t even conceive.

So before writing anyone over the age of 40 off, imagine how much you can learn and benefit from those years of experience and sheer depth of knowledge.

If you need any politically correct guidance on employing people of an older generation, please contact us.

Flexible Benefits – What They Are and How to Use Them 

Flexible Benefits – What They Are and How to Use Them 

Over the past few decades, lifestyles have become more flexible and people are able to differentiate in their choices about practically everything. This isn’t just a consumer trend: businesses have also become wise to the fact that their employees all have different needs that need to be catered for through flexible benefits.

This has resulted in organisations taking a more individualistic approach to benefit provision.  

In this blog, we explore what flexible benefits are, why they’re a popular choice and how your business can implement and get the most from them. 

What Are Flexible Benefits? 

All organisations provide employee benefits which are usually determined by grade. In most instances, the more senior the role, the more valuable the benefits package. Depending on seniority, core employee benefit packages, where the benefits are paid for by the employer, typically include items like: 

  • company car 
  • holidays 
  • private medical insurance 
  • critical illness cover 
  • long-term health cover 
  • health checks 

In addition, employers also often voluntary benefits like think discounted gym memberships, dental insurance and household or holiday insurance. Employees can choose to take up these products voluntarily, paying for the benefits themselves, usually out of their pay. 

This approach is fine if the core benefits on offer meet every employee’s needs. But what if your employer provides a company car but you don’t drive? Or you’re already covered on your partner’s private medical insurance so you don’t gain any advantage from this benefit? Or you don’t have any dependents but your employer insists on providing life cover any way? 

When benefits aren’t suitable for employees, companies are paying for benefits that aren’t used or they’re providing an unappetising benefit offering to their staff that fails to engage.   

Flexible benefit programmes provide a solution to this problem. Instead of offering standard benefit packages in the usual way, flexible benefit packages enable employees to vary their pay and benefits to meet their personal requirements.  

In most schemes, staff can retain their existing salary while selecting the right mix of benefits for them. Or they can adjust their salary up or down by taking fewer or more benefits.  

Let’s look at some examples to explore how this works: 

  • A single employee rejects the family private medical insurance cover they’re entitled to due to their grade and opts for single cover only – they receive the cost difference in cash 
  • Someone who doesn’t take all their holidays each year chooses to sell five days holiday and uses the saving to take up family private medical cover with the rest taken as cash 
  • An individual who doesn’t drive forgoes the company car benefit and takes the cash instead – they use it to buy more holiday and take up dental insurance and gym membership  

These are just a few examples of the sorts of flexibility flexible benefit schemes can offer. However, not all programmes will be this flexible; some employers decide that their staff must take a certain level of benefits (usually items like life cover or other insurances) as a minimum. And there are other considerations, like minimum pension auto-enrolment contributions, that need to be worked into the scheme. 

How Many Companies Use Flexible Schemes? 

According to Aon, just 12% of employers operate flexible benefit schemes. Which is surprising given research from Willis Towers Watson which shows that: 

  • 66% of employees who are offered choice in their benefits report their benefits meet their needs 
  • 30% of employees who are not offered choice in their benefits report their benefits meet their needs

However, the answer could lie in the perceived challenges associated with setting up and running a flexible benefit scheme.  

What to Consider When Setting Up a Flexible Benefits Programme 

There’s a lot to think about if you want to set up a flexible benefits scheme in your organisation: 

  • Online or paper – this might work for smaller businesses or those where staff don’t have access to computers. Otherwise online options, although more expensive, tend to offer ease of use and greater flexibility. 
  • Choosing benefit options – it’s easiest to transition your existing benefits to a flex scheme before expanding the options available. You’ll need to decide which benefits must be selected or whether you want to allow a more flexible approach. 
  • Keeping schemes up to date – every change in your benefits, tax and legislation must be reflected in your scheme which involves additional work in terms of configuring scheme rules, calculations and systems (if online). 

Although each of these sounds fairly straight forward, flexible benefit schemes can quickly become complex and require technical decision making which requires HR specialist knowledge.  

However, the pay off could well be worth the effort as flexible benefits help organisations stand out in the recruitment marketplace. And they can also be a powerful tool for retention as your benefit package will meet the needs of every segment of your workforce, regardless of life stage.  

There’s a lot to think about if you want to set up a successful flexible benefits scheme, so consider working with a seasoned HR consultant to ensure you deliver legally and secure a great return on your investment. 

For flexible support with all your HR projects, get in touch with Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk. 

 

Menopause – the dirty secret

Menopause – the dirty secret

15.1 million women are at work in the UK. So it’s safe to assume that at some stage in the next 20 or so years those 15.1m women will go through the menopause in the workplace. That’s an awful lot of people who are absolutely guaranteed to go through a fairly seismic shift in their lives.  Learn more about managing the menopause in the workplace and download our free Menopause HR Policy.

Menopause in the Workplace

We hear a lot of talk about millennials and their issues, but consider this, a huge proportion of the workforce at any given time is going through a massive physical and physiological change and no one wants to talk about it much less do anything about it.

99% of businesses in the UK do not even have a menopause in the workplace policy, they have Well-being policies sure but nothing not a jot, iota or mention of what perhaps 10% of their workforce is going through and 50% will face at some stage in their lives.

We all have mothers, sisters, friends, wives, girlfriends, work colleagues, so it’s safe to assume that all of us know someone that is going through this right now – silently, alone and totally ignored.

The average age for women to go through the menopause is 51, (some go through it much earlier, some later), it can last up to 7 years, yes you heard right, 7 long, upsetting, draining, weird years. Symptoms include interrupted sleep, hot flushes, night sweats, night terrors, weight gain, irritability, mood swings, depression, general malaise, brain fog and a lot more I won’t mention – in short, a fairly miserable set of symptoms.

With the skills shortage in the UK we will all have to work a lot longer (up to 70 and beyond) as we have diddly squat in pensions. But yet, not yet halfway through their working lives, a huge proportion of women are going through the hell that is the menopause in the workplace – unsupported.

Do you have a Menopause Policy?

Recently I’ve written a Menopause HR Policy, to help all employers and I mean ALL employers deal with this issue. Include it in your wellbeing policies, have it as a stand-alone, it’s as important as your maternity policy. You can download it below for free. So employers start preparing and start by buying fans!

Download your Free Menopause in the Workplace HR Policy

Menopause

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Also check out www.megsmenopause.comh

Employing older workers – the benefits

Employing older workers – the benefits

With more people living longer, the workforce contains a higher proportion of older workers than ever before. And this demographic trend is only going to continue with one in five of the UK population expected to be 65 or older by 2030.  

With pension pots failing to provide people with the retirement they want, more people are working longer. However, many people over the age of 50 are at risk of leaving the workforce early. And not always because they want to.  

With many businesses struggling to recruit due to high employment rates, it’s time to consider hiring older workers and all the benefits they can bring.  

The Challenges Faced by Older Workers 

Older workers are generally considered to be people over the age of 50. However, in some industries served by younger people – think fashion retail or hospitality – older workers could be thought of as anyone over the age of 35.   

According to the Centre for Ageing Better, staff over 50 face age discrimination when applying for jobs or trying to progress their careers. They are also: 

  • more likely to be stuck in low paid jobs 
  • feel most insecure about losing their jobs 
  • less likely to be offered opportunities for development 

In fact, only 25% of employees aged 50-59 and 22% of those aged 60-69 felt their employer encouraged them to take up learning and development opportunities. This is a significant drop compared to 44% of 18-39 year-olds and 32% of 40-49 year-olds.[Text Wrapping Break] 

With older workers forming an increasing part of the workforce, it’s time for employers to change their perspectives and understand what the over 50s can contribute. 

What They Bring to Your Business  

Older doesn’t mean worse. In fact, many of the UK’s key industries rely on more mature staff. Take farming. The average age of a UK farmer is 59. These people bring years of skill and expertise to their jobs. And the country remains well fed and is able to export meat and other produce because of their work.  

There are plenty of other benefits that come with hiring older employees: 

  • They’re less likely to leave than their younger counterparts – saving you time and money when it comes to recruitment and training. 
  • They’ll understand your ageing customer base better – as the population ages, it’s not only workers but customers who will be getting older. Having employees who are the same age as your customers, who understand their needs and can talk to them on an equal footing will bring major benefits to your business. 
  • Diversity brings additional advantages to your wider team and business – and that includes age diversity. Think fresh perspectives, knowledge sharing, new ideas and improved problem solving. 

There are also benefits to the economy as employing more older workers will contribute to tax revenues offsetting some of the costs associated with an ageing population. If everyone in the UK worked one year longer, GDP would increase by 1%. Which can only be good for the economy and, by proxy, your business.  

Managing Older Workers 

Hiring older workers may be easier in some locations than others due to the demographic makeup of the area in which your business is located.  

Cities tend to have larger populations of younger people whereas older people often move away from urban areas. So, if hiring over 50s sounds like a good option for your firm, you might need HR support to attract and retain the right people. 

But it’s not just recruitment that you’ll need to consider. Think about adjusting your workplace practices to create an age-friendly culture that appeals to all generations.  

A key practice that cuts across all age groups (although for different reasons), is flexible working. For older workers this could mean giving people the opportunity to work from home, condense their hours or work part-time or in job shares. These options will allow them to: 

  • achieve better work-life balance 
  • carry out caring responsibilities 
  • manage health conditions 
  • wind down to retirement 

Making flexible working practices available to all staff is a certain way to engage your people, whatever their age.

For older workers you might also need to consider making changes to: 

  • Work tasks – heavy lifting could be a no-go for some older people but judge this on a case by case basis 
  • Training provision – ensuring everyone in your team is up to speed with how you work will deliver best return on your compensation and benefits investment 
  • Technology – not all over 50s are behind the technology times but you might need to invest in technology training to ensure your latest recruit is up to speed. This could mean introducing formal training sessions or learning on the job by being buddied up with a colleague. 

As skill shortages worsen and the working population ages, hiring older workers will be a necessity for many businesses. The workplace imposes barriers on every individual and all employees, no matter their age, have their individual strengths and weaknesses. Your challenge as a business owner is to find out where your staff need support and where you can make the most of their existing expertise.  

Attract, hire, engage and retain staff of all ages with expert support from Crosse HR. Get in touch today on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk. 

The Good Work Plan

The Good Work Plan

The good work plan… No this is not something I have thought up or that I am promoting, it’s something the government have actually thought up and it’s coming on the 6th April 2020.

So what’s it about then?

Well from the 6th April 2020 instead of putting issuing contracts on the long finger for two months which a lot of employers do, you will have to issue them on the first day of work at the very latest. As well as your employees, workers will also have to have a written statement too – outlining their terms of engagement. The Good Work Plan is going to affect agency workers, casual workers and zero hours contracts the most, in my opinion.

If that’s not enough, there is more to The Good Work Plan:

  • Some staff will be able to request more stable working hours
  • The length of time you can claim continuous service is shortening
  • Calculating holiday pay is changing
  • New rules around hospitality staff keeping their tips
  • Recruitment agencies cannot use ‘pay between assignments’ like before

Further information can be found here on this link, but CrosseHR will keep you posted and prepared in any case: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-plan

Breaking up is hard to do.

Breaking up is hard to do.

Everyone of us has issued dismissals or personally left a job, many of us many times, it’s a fact of life if you run or own a business, people will come and people will go. Some will leave with your blessing and leave well, some will be ‘encouraged’ by you to go and others will bawl you out/or you them in a blaze of glory, recriminations and occasionally vandalism.

The good leavers

They are a good sort, usually good employees, who just want to move on for whatever reason, they feel bad but its the right thing to do. They come in anxious and nervous, some cry and tell you they are leaving, thank you for your help, they want to work their notice and want to leave as friends.

What should you do?

Shake their hand, wish them well and start organising the leaving party. On a practical note, agree a last working day, agree whether or not they wish to work right up to their last day or take any leave due to them. Also agree a handover to their successor and/or whether you will involve them in recruiting a successor. Agree with them how they should tell the team and any clients and then start organising the leaving drinks. All’s well.

Then there’s the bad leavers – AKA dismissals

These come in many forms, here are a few regular ways to exit badly:

The disappeared

One day they don’t show up and you never see or hear from them again. It’s all a bit strange and a bit puzzling and no one is really sure why – they seemed alright at the time.

What do you do?

Try to determine a) if they are alright b) if they ever intend coming back c) if all else just for curiosity’s sake try to establish the reason why. Write, call or email asking them to get in touch. Give them a deadline date to do so, advise them that you will assume they no longer with to work with you if they do not get in touch. There is no point worrying about notice periods etc, it wastes time just pay them up to the last day they worked and any annual leave accrued, issue the P45 and move on.

Dismissals with an immediate bang

They’ve handed in their notice, its all going ok sort of and all of a sudden they tell you, I’m not working to the end of my notice and that’s it.

What should you do?

Well if you were happy for them to work their notice and they don’t want to, they have waived their right to work their contracted notice and for this they do not get paid. Put it in writing and move on.

I want you gone and NOW!

They’ve handed in their notice and things have gone from bad to worse, you can’t bear the sight of them and they have no intention of doing a stroke of work until that last day. You want them gone and now.

What should you do?

If you do then you have to pay for it. You put them on ‘gardening leave’ tell them not to come in anymore and pay them up to the end of their notice. This dismissal process tends to be the easiest.

And finally…… the references

The very least you should do, is give a factual reference confirming job title and dates of employment and always include a disclaimer. Avoid all personal opinions and keep it as benign or as neutral as possible.

Get in touch if you need help with references, dismissals and/or leavers.