The 7 things you need to know about managing employees

Have you built or are you building a successful business?  It’s stressful isn’t it?  Especially when you have to deal with tricky day to day employee matters. I’ve managed my own teams for over twenty years, and HR teams can be some of the hardest people to manage – I can’t imagine why! So I thought I would share my 7 tips on how to effectively manage your employees.

What you should know about managing employees …

So, you decided to start your own business because you’re creative, or you’re a genius at what you do, and thought, why should I do this for someone else, when I could do this for myself? Plus, I think I would be pretty good at it too? So, you start your own business and things have gone well for you, in fact, things are going brilliantly, and you now have 10 people working for you. All is good right? But hang on, if you are really honest, there are a few cracks starting to appear. Some of your employees are taking a few too many days off for your liking, and some appear to be demotivated or don’t have any interest in what they are doing or how the company is doing any more, and you just don’t understand why this is happening. Sound familiar?

I subscribe to a number of newsletters and articles that are relevant to my role in HR, and the Tiny Pulse Employee Engagement and Organisational Culture Report had some really interesting and very relevant findings recently.

The biggest issue and concern from 78% of the 400,000 leaders who participated was employee engagement and retention. So how can you improve employee engagement and retention levels?

  1. Never underestimate culture – your culture drives happiness, and some of the strongest factors that correlated to employee happiness include work environment and organisational culture.
  2. Peers and Colleagues rule – this is the number 1 thing that employees love about their work place – their peers and colleagues, so make sure you recruit well!
  3. Keep an eye on market rates of pay and benefits – believe it or not nearly one in four employees would leave their employer if they were offered a 10% or more raise, so whilst this isn’t the be all and end all, you need to know what your competitors are paying in terms of basic salary and benefits and ensure that you pay what you can afford.
  4. Professional Growth – only 25% of the employees surveyed felt they were being given opportunities to develop and grow. Millennials crave these opportunities so if you employ millennials, and don’t invest in learning and development opportunities, you could see a rise in people leaving you!
  5. Make sure people feel valued and appreciated – not even 1 in 3 people felt that they were thanked or appreciated, with most employees feeling their managers were constantly pointing out faults!
  6. Ensure employees are meeting their full potential – over 70% of the people surveyed felt they were not meeting their full potential and were constantly fire-fighting and dealing with issues rather than focussing on their priorities and objectives which would allow them to reach their full potential.
  7. Ensure colleagues are pulling their weight – 35% of people surveyed said that there was someone in the team not pulling their weight which was demotivating and killed their level of productivity and engagement with the business. So, make sure you deal with the poor performers!

If any of these statements resonate with you, then why not have a look at our High Performing Business Program? (HPBP) Click here for the brochure This is our proven methodology of HR working in partnership with you. We work with you to design and implement a people strategy that’s right for your business, which will help you create an engaging, great place to work, with highly motivated teams, that just so happen to help you deliver great business results!

If you’d like to talk about this program or any other people related matters, book one of my informal 15-minute chats about how we can help you achieve the best people results. Book a call with Emma Browning

Valentine’s Offer



Sssssshh … its a secret! Ready to raise the bar on HR?  Then you could save yourself 15% off our HR Oxygen Service

Growing a business without HR expertise is challenging at best, and a constant uphill struggle at worst. If you’ve ever had to tackle a people issue on your own, you’ll know just how stressful it can be. Between trying to manage your legal obligations, and meeting your operational requirements, firefighting can become part of your everyday routine if you’re not careful.

There is always the option to call upon help on an ad-hoc basis, and there can be real value in that approach. But if you’re ready to raise the bar on HR, and give yourself the valuable gift of peace of mind along the way, then it might be time for you to start a retainer relationship with us at Meraki HR. This could be the HR secret weapon that you need. Here’s what our clients tell us about why they love HR Oxygen;

You get to know and trust your dedicated advisor so you can get straight to the heart of any issues

If you’ve ever outsourced work to a consultant in the past, you’ll know that there’s often a steep learning curve called ‘getting to know each other’ before you can really get down to business, the right foundations have to be laid. The consultant has to gain an understanding of how your business operates, and they need to find out what your business is really all about, warts and all.

So if you have a pressing HR issue and you’re working with someone who you’ve never worked with before each time something happens, it’s inevitable that you aren’t going to immediately hit the ground running. When you’re using retainer services though, this isn’t a problem. You get to know us, and we get to know you and what’s right for your business. you know how they do things, you trust us to make the right decisions with you, and you know that our advice is keeping you legal. It’s not difficult to see the massive difference this will make.

You don’t have to face the prospect of hunting down a skilled professional when something goes wrong

Leaders often don’t expect to go into work on any given morning and find themselves faced with handling the fall-out of an HR issue. These things happen though, and it’s vital that you’re ready to respond ASAP. Many issues can spiral out of control if you don’t formulate a fit-for-purpose solution within a quick timescale.

By the time you’ve contacted your business peers, asked for recommendations, and managed to get hold of someone who has a solution, serious damage might have already been done. When you have an HR expert on speed dial who you can get in touch with easily, there’s no panicking and there’s no fuss. You’ve already got your plan in place, and you know that your consultant will know just what to do and how to do it.

You’re probably going to save yourself a chunk of cash

Contrary to popular (though very much dated) belief, HR isn’t all about soft tactics that can’t be measured in terms of true business success. The best HR professionals understand their role in contributing to the bottom line of your business and play a role in helping you to smash your strategic objectives.

And we know that you have a keen eye on your costs. Yet another benefit of working on a retainer basis is that you can take advantage of some extremely savvy cost savings. You’ll know what you’re paying each month, so you’ll never face any nasty surprises.

Leaders who are mindful of the importance of their people practices might have an HR professional in mind who can help them when things go wrong. But leaders who have really stepped up their game and are ready for whatever their business throws at them, are already working with us on a retainer basis.

Are you ready to make the change? Then why not take advantage of this one time offer this year. So, no padded card or Tacky Valentines Teddy from us this year – instead we are giving the gift of HR Oxygen – which helps you breathe! We are offering 15% off our HR Oxygen service if you sign up for 12 months in February.  But SSSSSSSSHH, it’s a bit of a secret as there are limited retainer places available to ensure we can deliver exceptional service to all of our clients.

Now THAT’s love 😊

To take advantage of this offer, click on the link below, and we’ll give you a call to discuss how this works.

6 Common Myths about Equality & Diversity that could be putting your business at risk

Are you doing all you can to ensure that you promote diversity and equality in your workplace? Most employers are keen to play their part in ensuring that everyone has a fair and equal chance, and can recognise the benefits of ensuring that their business really delivers when it comes to such provisions and initiatives.

The problem is though, there is a lot of information out there that you might have come across that isn’t entirely accurate. As is the case when you’re dealing with the complexities of human behaviour, as well as the intricacies of the law, things can become a little complicated, and it can be hard to work out exactly what your responsibilities are.

All too often, there are some common myths and misconceptions that can actually hold you back from creating exemplary practices. We want to ensure that you don’t fall into this trap.

Before we get into anything else, it’s worthwhile to consider what we’re actually dealing with here.

Though ‘equality’ and ‘diversity’ are often used interchangeably, they don’t actually have the same meaning.

Equality is about ‘creating a fairer society, where everyone can participate and has the opportunity to fulfil their potential’ (Department of Health, 2004).

Diversity means difference. In this context, it’s about recognising individual and group differences within the workplace, and ensuring that everyone’s needs and requirements are understood and met.

If you’re passionate about getting things right, then first of all you need to recognise the mistakes that you might be making. The most common cause for this is having the wrong information. Read on to find out more about the myths and misconceptions about diversity and equality at work.

Myth 1 – You have to treat everyone the same

It’s a very common misconception that to promote diversity and equality in your workplace, you simply have to treat everyone the same. After all, this seems like a common sense approach. Every employee, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, race, and so on, simply gets the same treatment, and that makes everything fair and equal.

It doesn’t quite work this way though.  Sometimes, by treating everyone equally, you’re actually accidentally discriminating against certain groups. Let’s consider an example to demonstrate the point.

Suppose that your business has created shift patterns that require workers to start at 7am. You may have an employee with a certain disability that is worse first thing on a morning, and they may require a little extra time to get ready. They may have to take medications, for example, before they’re able to face the day.

In this situation, it would be reasonable to give them a slightly later starting time. In fact, if you want to ensure that they’re treated equally, it would be essential.

This doesn’t mean that they have ‘extra privileges’. You’re simply giving them the opportunity they need to perform and excel in their role.

It’s not about compromising business needs. It’s simply about taking a flexible approach, and recognising that a one-size-fits-all approach often isn’t fit for purpose.

To treat individuals as equals, you will sometimes have to accommodate their differences. Rather than processes, it’s about outcomes.

Myth 2 – There’s never any return on this kind of investment

It’s true that if you want to get things right when it comes to your diversity and equality practices, it’s likely that you’ll have to invest time and money. The exact amounts will depend on a wide variety of factors, including the size of your business, your existing provisions and how fit-for-purpose they really are, the culture within your organisation, and so on.

This isn’t time and money wasted though. There is the potential for a huge return on your investment, and there are many ways in which this can be realised.

In the most basic terms, you can protect your business against being taken to court to contend with a legal battle around discrimination. You might be surprised to discover just how expensive this can be.

Let’s take a look at disability discrimination, as an example. The maximum award from a tribunal is £236,962. The average award in 2013-2014 was £14,502.

The financial impact can be very real, and for small businesses, devastating. Don’t forget that you should also take into the account the damage that such circumstances would do to your reputation. Customers and clients are likely to hear about the case, you may find it difficult to recruit top talent, and you could find that it ends up having a very real impact on your bottom line.

It’s also important to look at things from another angle. Imagine what it could do for your business if you made sure that you got everything right, and went above and beyond the call of duty.

It could lead to a solid reputation as a fantastic employer. To your business being able to take its pick from the cream of the crop when it comes to the very best people for your roles. To winning awards and the associated press that comes with this. But most importantly, solid diversity and equality practices will make your workplace a much happier, motivated, and productive place to be.

The bottom line here is that there is a real business case for getting it right.

Myth 3 – It’s a box-ticking exercise

There are certain responsibilities that you need to make sure you meet. You need to be compliant with the relevant legislation, and you should be able to prove that you’ve taken the necessary steps to promote equality and diversity in your workplace.

It runs much deeper than this though.

Best practice should be ingrained into working arrangements, and sometimes, cultural shifts will have to be managed to get your business to where it needs to be.

You may collect information about the characteristics of your workforce, for example. On the surface, this could be seen as a box-ticking exercise. Collecting data is only the very first part of the story though.

There are many ways in which you could translate this data into something much more meaningful. You could pinpoint any problems that might be at play in terms of representation of certain groups at management level. You could create initiatives that seek to tackle underlying issues. You could benchmark against other businesses and organisations.

Recognise that boxes do sometimes have to be ticked, but that the real value comes from what you do after this stage.

Myth 4 – We’ve got a policy – we’ve done our bit!

A policy is of course essential when it comes to diversity and equality. You need to ensure that your staff are aware of their rights and responsibilities, that they know what to do when they feel that something has gone wrong, that they understand the provisions in terms of wider business goals and objectives, and so on.

Too often though, a policy is seen as an end in itself, and this is not the right approach to take.

Getting it right is more complex. Consider:

  • How will you ensure that you take into account the views and needs of a representative cross-section of your workforce?
  • How will you carry out consultations at various stages to ensure that you don’t miss anything important?
  • How will you communicate your changes to your staff?
  • When will you review and update your policy?
  • How will you assess its effectiveness?
  • Who will have ownership and responsibility for the policy?
  • Do you need to seek advice from a legal professional, an HR consultant, or other relevant bodies and organisations?
  • How will the policy link to other people practices within your business, such as disciplinary procedures?

A policy should never be simply a piece of paper, or a document on your computer system that is forgotten about.

It should form the basis of working practices, and steps should be taken to embed it within company culture and the accepted way of doing things.

Myth 5 – The solution is always an online training module for all staff

These days, many people are familiar with e-learning solutions. It’s likely that at some point or another, you’ve completed an online course about diversity and equality. Maybe it was during your time as an employee in another business, or maybe you’ve looked into this option as a way to bring your own staff up to date. There are a few things to consider here.

Firstly, don’t underestimate the power of e-learning. In many cases, it’s a cost effective solution that can help you to get to where you need to be. It requires less time away from the day job than many more traditional forms of training, and it can be highly effective.

The global e-learning market is expected to be worth $107 billion this year. This shows that more and more companies are making the investment, and they wouldn’t be doing so if there weren’t a solid business case.

Secondly though, take a look at the bigger picture. E-learning could indeed be a great solution for your staff, for all of the reasons that we’ve discussed above. But what’s important here is that you don’t see this solution as yet another box-ticking exercise.

If you want to create real change in your business – the type that gets you the results that you’re probably hoping for – then e-learning, or indeed any kind of learning solution – is only one small aspect of the story.

It’s important to take a step back and consider the needs of your staff and your business, and then create the solution from there. If you start out with a specific solution in mind and you haven’t taken the time to really assess whether it’s suitable, it’s very likely that you’ll waste time and money, and you won’t necessarily get the outcome that you’re aiming for.

Myth 6 – It’s just about your staff

At the moment, we’re talking about diversity and equality in the context of your HR practices. So naturally, we’ve discussed your people policies a fair bit. It’s worth recognising though that the issue is much wider.

The most successful businesses, and the ones that are paving their own way as up and coming forces to be reckoned with in their industries, are taking a more holistic approach. They’re ensuring that diversity and equality best practice is implemented across the board, in all areas of their operations.

If it’s not HR related, then why are we mentioning it here? It’s simple. Because if you want to maximise your business’s chance of success, you need to make sure that all sections work together towards a common goal.

Your HR staff (or contracted HR help, if you don’t have the resources or the requirement to have your own team at the moment), should play a role in wider business objectives.

Here are some examples of areas in which you need to consider diversity and equality:

  • Choosing suppliers that cater for a variety of needs
  • How you can play an active role in promoting relevant issues within the local community in which you operate
  • Working with clients and customers in a way that recognises their needs and their individuality

Get your management team together, and brainstorm your initial ideas. Once everyone’s priorities and challenges are on the table, you’ll find that you’re in a much better position for moving forward. 


As you made your way through this e-book, you might have spotted a few mistakes that you have been making in your business, or assumptions that have been holding back your practices. It’s worthwhile recognising that very few companies get everything right first time, and it often has to be viewed as a learning process.

If you can couple a desire for your business to be better with some specialist advice and expert help, you’re on to a winner. You don’t have to struggle on your own, but you do have to make a dedication to learning and progression as a leader.

Are there issues at play in terms of diversity and equality in your company that you know you need to tackle? Are you uncertain about how to manage the task, or where you should even begin?

If so, we’d be delighted to help. Get in touch today to arrange a free consultation: We have a wealth of experience in diversity and equality matters.

The Five things you should know about recruitment

  1. Before you even think about employing someone, make sure you write a clear job description outlining theKey Responsibility Area’s (KRA’s) of the role that also details the Key Competencies or Skills needed to perform in the role effectively. A good way to test whether the job description you have written makes sense, is to ask someone else to read it. If they can tell you what the person will be doing in their role and what skills they need, then you have written a good Job Description. If they can’t tell you – then you need to have another go at getting it right! The Job Description will also help you write a good advert for attracting the right candidates to apply for the role or brief a recruiter.  Make sure when you advertise the role, that you do not indirectly or directly discriminate against any protected groups as outlined by the Equality Act 2010. A discrimination claim can be brought against an employer, not just by an employee, but also by prospective employees’ if you are seen to discriminate in the recruitment process. Finally, the Job Description will also help you to set objectives for the new person when they start. This will ensure that both parties are clear about what is expected from day 1…………….. so no surprises!!
  2. Once you have a good job description, you need to prepare for the interview process. Remember the interview is a two-way process, and if you want to attract good quality candidates and you don’t prepare for the interview, this will not create a good impression of you and your business and may put off the best candidates! Think about the questions you can ask at interview, that will allow the candidates to demonstrate their suitability for the role. Ask open, competency based questions, such as “Please give me an example of when you have had to work to a tight deadline. When was this? What work was it that you had to do? Why was it important to be delivered by a certain date and what was the outcome?”  Make a list of your questions before you go into the interview, so that you are prepared. You should ask each candidate the same questions to ensure you can demonstrate a fair, unbiased, non-discriminatory recruitment process. You can then score each question, and then create a shortlist of the best candidates to invite back to the second stage interview.  The scoring process is also important because if anyone were to raise a discrimination case against after attending an interview, you can give them constructive feedback as to why they were unsuccessful using their lowest scoring questions as examples of why they weren’t put through to 2nd stage interview. It is also important that you keep all interview notes for at least six months as candidates can take up to 3 months to make any employment tribunal claims for discrimination, but the tribunal backlog of cases may mean it takes up to 6 months to reach you!
  1. The First Interview.  If possible, try to have two people from the business in the interview process. This will allow one of you to concentrate on making notes and one can focus on asking the questions. The note taker should not write their opinions of the candidate in their notes; they should simply write down what they hear from the candidate, thus keeping the notes factual and unbiased. Try to make the candidate feel relaxed at the start of the interview. Maybe ask them how their journey was this morning, or what they are doing after the interview. You want the candidate to be relaxed and at ease so that you see the “real” person. When someone is relaxed, they are more likely to talk openly and honestly about themselves.  At the beginning of the interview, take the time to explain what is going to happen to the candidate. Tell them how long the interview will take, and that you are looking for them to give you real life examples of work and experiences they have had rather than talk theoretically about what they would do. It’s also important that you explain the next steps to them after the first interview. Tell them how many people you are seeing for first interview and what date you will get back to them by, to tell them the outcome of the first interview. If you know what date the second or third interviews will take place, then ask them if they were selected would they be available on these dates. Make sure that you start the interview by asking them to explain their understanding of the role they are applying for. This can be a very telling first question and if they have left out any of the major responsibilities in the role, its time for you to fill in any gaps they have about the role and what they will be doing. This ensures that the candidate now fully understand the role and what will be expected of them. You can also use this time to see if they have any questions about the role before you move into the main questions of the interview. Once you have asked your prepared questions, again ask the candidate if they have any questions for you. If not, it’s important to establish a few things before closing the first interview. Ask them what their current basic salary is and also what their expectations are if moving into another role as these two figures can be very different! Ask them what benefits they currently receive and lastly what their notice period is. These are all really important questions to ask at first interview to ensure that you can match their expectations should you wish to offer them a role. From the candidates you have seen at first interview, you can then score each question, using the scoring system below. This will help you to create your shortlist for 2nd or 3rd stage interview.1 = Little or no evidence shown of the skill required
    2= Some evidence shown of the skill required
    3 = Good evidence shown of the skill required
    4 = Excellent evidence shown of the skill required
  1. The second interview should give you an opportunity to get to know the candidates better and also test whether they can do what they say they can do. You’d be surprised at how many second interviews can turn your favourite candidate into the least favourite, so it’s important to test what people tell you they can do in either the first or second interview. The skills test could be designed to test their accuracy if this is important or to use a specific system that you use such as SAGE, SAP, EXCEL, WORD or POWERPOINT. If they are going to be in a sales role, then think of an everyday scenario they will be faced with and ask them to play this out either face to face or over the phone. There are many ways you can test a skill, so get creative and if you need some help, get other people in the team to give you some ideas and suggestions. You can create some more competency-based questions for the candidate to get to know them better or you can use psychometric profiling which will give you an insight into the way the candidate thinks and works which can help you to determine what further questions to ask them. Psychometric profiling is a useful additional interviewing tool but you shouldn’t use it in isolation to make a recruitment decision.
  1. The offer. You have selected the best candidate for the role based on their skills and experience. You now have to make the offer of employment to them. I would always advise that this is done by telephone within 48 hours of the second or final stage interview – strike whilst the iron is hot! On the phone, just have a little chat with them before going into the actual offer itself. Asked them how they found the second interview, did they enjoy it and how do they feel about the role and the company? Have they got any questions? This will help you to gauge whether they are really interested or not. I have done this many, many times and most people are enthusiastic and excited about a role. However, on a couple of occasions, the people have been so disinterested and unenthusiastic about the opportunity or the Company that I have decided NOT to offer them the role! If you get all the right signals then go ahead and make your offer. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they are going to accept it. Once they have verbally accepted the role, tell them you will be sending them all the relevant paperwork by email or by post within the next 48 hours and that you will be in touch with them shortly to confirm their start date and that you look forward to them joining you. You can’t afford to get your recruitment wrong! A report carried out by Oxford Economics reveals that replacing members of staff who leave within their first 6 months of employment incurs significant costs for employers, approximately £30,614 per employee. There are two main factors that make up this cost:
  • The cost of lost output while a replacement employee gets up to speed
  • The logistical cost of recruiting and absorbing a new workerWorried you are making recruitment mistakes? Then why not come along to our first workshop of 2020 – it’s a Recruitment Masterclass and you will learn everything you need to know about making a great first impression on candidates in this tough market, creating a great candidate experience and finding out what our killer interview questions are to make sure you only hire the best people for your business. You can book your place for just £299 (for clients) or £349 (for non-clients) before 24th January! Book here now

What makes an inspiring leader?

So, I hear you chorus, why do I need to be an inspiring leader? What’s wrong with just being a great boss??!!

It’s a fair question, with a simple answer;  because inspired employees are more than twice as productive as satisfied employees, that’s why.  As Simon Sinek said in his TED Talk, ‘no one follows a leader for the leader. They follow a leader for themselves. They don’t require motivation to act because they’ve been inspired.’

In reality, the title of “boss” only signifies power over others. To be called a leader, you must inspire your team through your actions and words to believe in a common vision. The mark of a true leader is the ability to encourage employee commitment and engagement.

Don’t just take mine and Simon’s word for it; listen to Richard Branson no less, who identifies the ability to inspire as the single most important leadership skill. And according to an international IBM survey of 1,700 CEOs, one of the top three most important leadership traits is the ability to inspire.

People who take initiative, who have a vision, and who can strategise, plan, and accomplish goals to achieve their vision are also considered good leaders. They display those skills when working in a team setting and, hopefully, their team members are appreciative of those skills.

But what about other kinds of skills that make up a good leader? Not just professional skills—you may be highly trained and proficient in your field.  This is where emotional intelligence comes in, which is defined as “the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions.”

Think about a great manager that you’ve had in the past. You probably felt comfortable going to that person with your questions, concerns, and needs, and they listened to you and worked to address your concerns and make sure you felt supported. And if (or when) you both had disagreements, they were likely respectful and productive exchanges.

Now I’m not a magician, so I can’t promise to turn you into an inspirational leader in 400 words! However, knowing and understanding your own emotional intelligence could help you, so if you want to become a great leader, then why not Book a call here with me and we can discuss you completing The Thomas International Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire?

But as a starter for 10 here are my top tips for switching your focus from ‘boss’ to ‘inspirational’ leader.

  1. Have a clear vision, mission and values and always act with honesty and integrity
  2. Set the bar high and create bold business and team goals
  3. Demonstrate an admirable work ethic – set the standard for everyone
  4. Be enthusiastic and positive – doom and gloom accomplishes nothing, so see the bright side of everything and remain a beacon of positivity in the face of challenges or failures
  5. Be passionate – Your passion will remind your team often about the “why” of their work.
  6. Work with your team – remember you are working together for a shared goal
  7. Acknowledge and appreciate effort – it’s a hygiene factor; human beings need to feel and be acknowledged. Notice and appreciate.
  8. Communicate and listen impeccably, and often – Truly inspiring leaders know that taking the right amount of time with each communication ensures that everyone is on board and moving forward
  9. Positively encourage self-development in your teams
  10. Don’t ever tolerate mediocrity – it’s just not inspirational!

Engage for success

We know that healthy, happy workers lead to healthy, happy and successful organisations.

Are your people delivering the results you need?

Is your business performing as expected?

When was the last time you asked your people what they loved about their job?

If your employees feel unhappy or unappreciated, you can be sure as eggs is eggs that they won’t be giving their all to the business that employs them.

Just as in life, being engaged with something leads to so many great things including high energy, happiness, motivation and loyalty. If it feels a great place to be then why would you leave?

Personal Group, in a recent survey revealed that almost half of UK workers are unhappy with their job. And here is the magic from that survey…

…happy employees are a massive 12% more productive than those unhappy with their work situation.

Hands up anybody who would like to see a 12% increase in productivity in their business this month?!

When you take the time to show your people you care, in a variety of ways, they are going to be happier, more engaged in their jobs, and more productive. The bonus is that when your staff are happy, this typically leads to better customer service, too. Yet again we see the ripple effect in these critical areas is huge. And who doesn’t want that?

Here are a few of my low-cost ideas to boost your employee engagement and productivity going into the exciting year 2020;

  • Give more than is expected – with this I mean environment, understanding their goals, incentives and perks – small gestures that have great impact. To avoid any cost, you can hand write a thank you note where relevant. The little things in life carry the highest value because of how you are left feeling.
  • Get the welcome mat out. Make sure that new employees feel welcomed. Have an existing staff member mentor the newbies until they get on their feet, and ensure that they get a full and thorough induction into the business to make them effective in their role asap.
  • Work in the Cloud. A work-from-home day is always useful for employees waiting on deliveries or with childcare issues. It shows trust and your employees will be just as productive if not more. Also making your systems available remotely means work does not have to grind to a halt should adverse weather conditions make commuting impossible.
  • Safety and Wellness. Don’t forget the little things that make life liveable. Onsite minor vehicle maintenance, basic medical assistance, basic medications, access to health-based time off, company sponsored flu jabs – can all be helpful, particularly for those companies that don’t offer healthcare to their employees. Productive employees help a company succeed
  • Be on your employees’ side. To build trust you have to be trusted. To build respect you have to be respected. If an employee knows you will fully support them then they are going to respect you and be loyal.

In our Highly Effective Manager programme, which starts in January in London, our fourth module is all about Employee Engagement. It is so important that your managers understand the benefits of creating and maintaining engagement within their team. They will learn what we really mean by employee engagement and why it’s important, and how to create an employee engagement strategy that works for your team and your business, and that’s just one of six modules that we know will help your managers to be highly effective.

If you want to talk more about the programme then let’s have a virtual cuppa together
Book a cuppa with me here.

As we are now in December, we will be counting down the sleeps to the booking deadline to secure your places on this programme – 20th December.

More details here about the HEM programme

There are only 12 places and this is absolute gold when it comes to educating your managers to be the best they can be – the bonus is great managers run great businesses.

PS – Have you connected with us on LinkedIn? For ease here’s the link to my page. Emma Browning LinkedIn – happy connecting!

Are you ready to take the advice of Richard Branson?

I talked about mentoring and coaching recently and for many of us, when you think of influential people from the world of business, Richard Branson is a name that’s likely to feature pretty high up on your list.

He has talked many times about mentoring and recently quoted at an event hosted by Purple Cubed, ‘I am often asked what the link between a promising business person and a successful business person is, and mentoring always comes to mind. Giving people advice on how to achieve their goals is often overlooked in British businesses.’

The lesson here is really quite clear. Though formal training and development programs will always have an important role in any business, it’s time to start paying serious attention to the alternative options that could give your staff the capacity to shine.

A huge difference can be made by creating and implementing learning and development programs that will give staff members at all levels a chance to shine. They could work alongside skilled and understanding managers who are trained in coaching techniques, or work with qualified coaches or internal mentors who can help them overcome their barriers to success, look at challenges in a different light, and help your employees step into their full potential.

So perhaps it’s not actually that fancy e-learning platform that you really need. Or maybe that expensive training course that you’ve had in mind wouldn’t get you the very best return on your investment. It could be the case that you could reap the biggest rewards by going back to basics and enabling great conversations between your employee and their manager or internal mentor about how they can reach their full potential and career goals.

Are you ready to take the advice of Richard Branson, and try a different approach to the ongoing development of your staff? If your managers can become mentors or coaches of their teams, they will definitely see a huge change in their teams’ performance. We’ve got some great case studies from our clients where mentoring and coaching has taken their management skills and teams performance to the next level.

In our ‘Highly Effective Manager’ program which starts in January in London, we cover a whole module on coaching. If your managers understand not only the benefits of coaching but how to coach effectively themselves, you are well on your way to having happy, motivated people and in turn this creates trust and loyalty.

The benefits are endless.

So why not book a virtual cuppa with me and we can have a chat over a cuppa about how your managers can be part of this amazing program. Book your call here.

More details about the ‘Highly Effective Manager’ program here

PS – Have you connected with us on LinkedIn?  If not, be great to see you on there too, for ease here’s the link to my page. Emma Browning LinkedIn – happy connecting!

Are you attracting the right people to your business?

This week I am talking about recruitment.

A 9-5 working week, 4 weeks holiday a year, and a corner desk were once considered perks to a job, creating satisfaction and loyalty. Not anymore. Today’s businesses need to be much savvier if they want to attract and retain key talent.

These days prospective employees are searching for a better work/life balance, and a greater sense of fulfilment from their jobs. They are more discerning. The structure of work has broken down and shifted, and small business owners must take note of this new, progressive work environment that’s needed, or risk missing out on great talent. Your employer brand story is now more important than ever.

The knock on effect of not getting the right talent can be huge and costly. So let’s look at some great ways to get this right from the start.

Here are just 5 of my current favourite examples of innovative HR practices and policies being used by the savvy companies in their Employer Brand Story to compete against you for the best quality staff……

1. Workplace and corporate wellbeing schemes

People are your most important asset. What better way to demonstrate value for your staff than investing in their health and wellbeing? Consider the benefits of providing workplace access to services such as nutritional advice, yoga, massage and mindfulness. The benefit is that you will see a reduction in your employee stress levels, improved attrition, reduced sickness absence and a generally refreshed and re-engaged workforce.

2. “Owning” unused holiday entitlement

Annual leave days are technically an employees to use as he or she sees fit. If they don’t use them, for whatever reason, a fresh idea is to let them donate them to another employee. Perhaps the beneficiary is taking a trip around the world or preparing for a life-changing event. The point is that the business acknowledges the employee earned these days and can dole them out without company involvement. Google practices this policy, with great success. Word of caution though – your employee legally must take at least 28 days off (that’s 20 days holiday and 8 days BH – before they can donate holiday to a colleague – it’s the LAW!)

3. Customising the position for the talent

Progressive business owners are ditching job descriptions, opting for building the position based on an employee’s strengths and interests. Whilst it can be challenging, this new practice is highly successful if moulded correctly. It takes a mix of knowing the employees, and accurately measuring their skill sets.

4. Two-way mentoring

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. While newer employees learn invaluable product knowledge and process requirements from company veterans, seasoned employees can get their imaginations sparked, absorb new technology, and discover new “hacks” from the newbies. Smart companies tap into the mentoring relationship as a back-and-forth, not up-to-down.

5. Setting up workplace flexibility as the new normal

Focusing less on work/life balance, and more on the integration of life and work, is a paradigm that is emerging in the workplace. It’s all about how a company values the contribution of an employee, not just the physical hours worked. Time off for appointments and leaving early for school plays brings about loyalty and satisfaction in employees. I can testify here. I’ve adopted this approach with my own business and as a result I’ve been able to attract and retain the best people for my business!

The businesses that embrace one or more of these progressive practices will enjoy higher success rates in their recruitment, (which let’s face it, is pretty tough at the moment) greater employee engagement and higher levels of morale.

The great news is that our Highly Effective Manager Program, which starts in January in London delivers a recruitment masterclass in the second module. Amongst other things your managers will learn how to inject some leading edge, and highly valued innovation, into your recruitment policies and practices that will in turn help you to attract and retain the best talent, and have highly engaged employees!

Here’s more details:- Highly Effective Manager Program 

Let’s have a virtual cuppa if you want to know more about this fantastic new program. Book a date here.

So here’s my challenge to you – be daring! Be more ‘millennial’ in your business thinking. Treat your prospective employees like potential customers; ask yourself, ‘what is my USP as an employer?  What can I bring to the table that will attract the best candidates – who will, in turn bring success to my business?’  Create a sense of excitement and buzz about working in your business. You can inject some leading edge, and highly valued innovation into your HR policies and practices that will in turn breed success, both with recruitment and employee engagement.

Managing Employee Performance

At Meraki HR we work with lots of clients on what I call proactive HR. That’s helping them to design and implement a people strategy that helps them create great places to work which in turn means their people deliver great business results. But life isn’t always rosy, and we are dealing with people and things can and do go wrong – that’s life!

I would say that in my experience, the most common problem that I am asked to help my clients with is underperforming employees.  I’ve not only helped managers with this issue within their teams and have coached them to deal with these matters successfully, I’ve also managed my own teams and had to deal with under-performing employees too! I know that it’s something none of us look forward to doing, but if it’s done in the right way, it really doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated. Just follow my five steps below to see if you can turn this employee around, and if not, how you can deal with it fairly and effectively.

Here are my five top tips things for managing poor performance …

  1. How do you know that someone isn’t performing? It’s important that you don’t just “think” or “feel” that someone isn’t performing, as it needs to be based on fact. Facts can be based on not delivering or meeting targets or objectives or facts can be based on colleague or customer feedback with examples of the poor performance/behaviour.
  2. Once you start to either see this poor performance or hear about it from others as noted above, it’s important that you address the issues immediately. Don’t ignore it and hope that it will go away, because unless the person knows that what they are doing or how they are behaving is unacceptable, they don’t have the opportunity to do something about it. These are always difficult conversations to have, so make sure you go into the conversation prepared. This may mean that you have to tell the person who the feedback has come from, but you must give examples of the poor performance. So, if it’s that they have been rude to a customer, then you need to give the customer’s name and the feedback received from that customer. If it’s that they have not met a target or an objective or a deadline then be specific about exactly what it is they have failed to achieve and tell them the impact that this has had on the customer/the employee/the business.
  3. Once you have given them the details about the poor performance, you need to ask them why they think this has happened and be prepared to listen. There could be a very plausible reason why the incident or behaviour has happened, or they could tell you that they didn’t know of the target or the deadline.  Finally, it could be that they have some problems at home at the moment and they are finding it difficult to concentrate on work. Just listen and take notes, using this time to think about how they or you can address or resolve the problem. If there are issues which you need to address, then address them, as this will then mean they can perform to the required standards as the excuse has been removed. If the reasons for them not performing are of a more personal nature, ask them what you can do to help and support them through this difficult time. It might be that they need to change their hours for a short period of time or that they need to go to a counselling appointment once a week and have a little time off. What’s important here is that you agree a plan of action that the business can support and in return you expect to see the required improvements.
  4. Put it in writing – whatever you have discussed and agreed should be written up. This doesn’t have to be in a formal letter but an email at least that can be referred to by both parties in the future if necessary. It’s important that this letter/email reflects accurately what was discussed and agreed. I would suggest that someone such as an HR professional checks this letter/email before it is sent to the individual.
  5. It’s now your responsibility to keep an eye on things. Have they improved? If so then that’s great. If not, what are you going to do next? Sometimes these informal approaches to performance management can be very successful as they can “nip” minor problems in the bud. However, on occasion, a more formal process may be needed where targets and improvement objectives are set, often known as a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) with agreed deadlines which need to be monitored on a regular basis and documented as part of a formal performance management process. I would suggest that if you get to this stage, you may need the support of an HR professional.

It’s a myth that you can’t dismiss people for poor performance, you can, but only if you have followed the right process and have communicated this process to the person and given them the time and support needed to improve. Careful and good record keeping is key to the successful dismissal of an employee for poor performance.

I should point out that it’s never plain sailing when dealing with poor performance issues. The reason for this is that you are dealing with a human being, and you are essentially saying that someone is not performing well in their role and this can provoke several different reactions from people. Some can become very defensive and angry; some can get very emotional and some can just decide they can’t face the process at all and get themselves signed off work by a DR as “unfit for work due to stress.” These types of reaction are common because no one likes to hear they are not doing well and fundamentally people want to go to work to do a good job. Therefore, it’s important to have professional help and support throughout this process. An experienced HR professional will have seen and dealt with all of these reactions and will know exactly how best to deal with them to minimise the risks of the process not being followed to a successful conclusion for both parties; either the person improves, or the person is dismissed.

Book yourself in for a virtual cuppa and I can chat through my top tips on managing employee performance. Click on the link here.

Engage for success

Are your people not delivering the results you need and your business not performing as expected?

Consider for a moment, the findings of research conducted by employee services provider Personal Group, which revealed that almost half of UK workers are unhappy with their job. The same survey showed that happy employees are a massive 12 per cent more productive than those unhappy with their work situation. Hands up anybody who would like to see a 12% increase in productivity in their business this month?!

So, if your employees feel unhappy or unappreciated, you can be sure as eggs is eggs that they won’t be giving their all to the business that employs them.

When you take the time to show your people you care – in a variety of ways – they are going to be happier, more engaged in their jobs, and more productive. The bonus is that when your staff are happy, this typically leads to better customer service, too. And who doesn’t want that? Here are a few of my low-cost ideas to boost your employee engagement and productivity in this final quarter of the year;

  • Give more than is expected. Think outside the standard wage and benefits box you provide to your employees. Observe them at work and see what you can do to improve their work environment and make it a more welcoming and pleasant place to be. Ask your employees what their career goals are and help them achieve them. If your company has the budget, reward outstanding performance with extra perks such as gift cards, dinner at a local restaurant, or a surprise paid day off. It needn’t be expensive, and the small gestures are often the most impactful. If cost really is an inhibitor here, why not consider ad hoc personally handwritten thank you notes? They can be a highly valued, lovely touch.
  • Get the welcome mat out. Make sure that new employees feel welcomed. Have an existing staff member mentor the newbies until they get on their feet, and ensure that they get a full and thorough induction into their role and the company to make them effective in their role asap.
  • Work in the Cloud. A work-from-home day is always useful for employees waiting on deliveries or with childcare issues. By putting as much of your company’s shared content in the cloud as possible, it frees up your staff by offering more flexibility. This will also show your staff you trust them to work well, without you having to look over their shoulders. From a productivity point of view, this is a win-win. We are now entering into a time of year when adverse weather can sometimes mean people can’t get into work.  Making your systems available remotely means work does not have to grind to a halt should adverse weather conditions make commuting impossible.
  • Safety and Wellness. Don’t forget the little things that make life liveable. Onsite minor vehicle maintenance and other machinery/equipment repairs can go a long way towards keeping your employees happy. Who else hates it if their laptop or printer isn’t working? It can take up tons of time trying to sort out these issues, but will also cause a massive frustration for your employees if they simply don’t have the tools to do a good job!  Likewise, offering basic medical assistance, basic medications, access to health-based time off, company sponsored flu jabs – can all be helpful, particularly for those companies that don’t offer healthcare to their employees. Incentives keep employees productive. Productive employees help a company succeed. And the double win here is that some health and safety incentives even lower the costs of keeping your employees employed – think of the sheer number of employee sick days that get taken by the dreaded flu virus…..a company-sponsored flu vaccination might seem like great business sense in this context and now’s the time to be getting your flu jabs!
  • Be on your employees’ side. It is always important to have your employees’ backs, even if an issue has something to do with a customer. The customer is not always right. Show the members of your team that you respect and care about them by defending and supporting them when needed. And yes, sometimes that may mean losing a customer.

So, we know that healthy, happy workers lead to healthy, happy and successful organisations.  If you want to increase productivity and boost your profits employee wellbeing needs to be at the top of your agenda.

A well-being strategy and policy is a good place to start and we can provide you with a well-being policy that is right for your business and give you loads of creative ideas for a well-being strategy to get you started. Want to know more? Then book a virtual cuppa with me and we can have a chat about how to improve your employee well-being and boost your productivity. Book a cuppa with me here.