News Archive

17 August 2018

5 Interesting Work Social Ideas

Think your staff are getting tired of the same old corporate social events? Many companies play it too safe when it comes to social events for their employees, plumping for the traditional office Christmas party or the run-of-the-mill Thursday after-work drinks in your local. If you fancy shaking things up a bit and giving your team an event to remember, here are just five exciting alternatives for your next work social…

1. Escape Games
Escape games are becoming wildly popular with office parties. The idea is simple – you and your team are trapped in a room with an hour to get out and must solve cryptic clues and mentally-challenging puzzles to escape. Not only are they great fun, but they also have the added advantage of forcing people to work together as a team and are much more interesting than your traditional team-building away days. Happy hour in the local watering hole will start to look very dull after an hour of high-intensity escape room games!

2. Flashback Friyays
Fridays can be a very dull and dead day in the office, with everyone winding down to the weekend by quietly internet shopping and ‘checking their emails’ for an hour come four o’clock. Add a bit of energy to the last day of the working week by turning them into a Flashback Friyay. You could invite staff to an after office hours party themed by decade – who can resist the urge to don a scrunchie and choker to relive the 90s, accompanied by some Spice Girls tunes or the dulcet tones of Mariah Carey?

3. Host a Cook-off
Shows like MasterChef and The Great British Bake-off have convinced a lot of people that they’re a dab hand in the kitchen. Often their self-belief goes far beyond their actual culinary talents, and the results can be hilarious. You could try dividing your staff into small teams and getting them to cook using a particular ingredient or cook a particular type of cuisine. Host a cook-off, and you’ll inject a healthy dose of competition into your work social, as well as enjoying the laughs which come with cake mishaps and dodgy flavor combinations.

4. Board Game Battles
Turn the boardroom into a board games room for an afternoon, and play some of the classics such as Scrabble, Snakes and Ladders or Cluedo. Games which call for people to form teams can be a great way of getting people to work together and socializing with one another. As an alternative to a quiz night, they can be great fun, as long as nobody brings along Twister…

5. Go Strawberry Picking
On those rare occasions when the weather is nice, what could be more quintessentially British than a trip out to the countryside for some strawberry picking? Escape the office and the city for an afternoon, and this is a great way for your team to spend some time together, doing something a little different. Most people won’t have been strawberry picking since childhood, but there’s something oh so satisfying about enjoying the fruits of your labor and a cheeky glass of champagne on a summer’s afternoon.

Hopefully, these five suggestions will have given you a little inspiration. Avoid the standard warm beer in a dingy pub or the tedious office dinner and try something a little different next time you want to hold a work social.

Source: Undercover

17 August 2018

How to recognise and weed out toxic managers

Toxic leadership is a big problem in the business world. Despite the massive growth in interest around company culture in recent years, toxic managers still exist. They are bad apples having a detrimental effect on employee retention and productivity. Most of all, toxic managers are destroying the good fabric of the business.

It’s increasingly recognized that good company culture is essential for productivity and growth. A new report from breatheHR, a software provider for smaller and medium-sized companies, has found that bad company culture is costing the UK economy a staggering £23.6 billion per year. The report, The Culture Economy, found as many as a third of British employees have quit their jobs due to bad workplace culture. Conversely, the same company also researched to find the top 25 SME culture leaders.

So why do toxic managers prevail? Business owners are guilty of turning a blind eye to toxic managers and some even actively hire and promote them. The havoc they wreak is often forgiven because their immediate success is measured in sales. Toxic bosses are often results driven without any understanding of the impact of their behaviour in the long term.

Employing this kind of manager is a short-sighted and short-term strategy. In the long game, toxic managers can destroy organizations.

Weeding out a toxic employee is one thing, but what do you do as the leader if one of your loyal managers is the problem?

How to recognize a toxic manager
Most toxic bosses are clueless that they even have a problem (though some smugly manipulate employees). Most think the way they manage staff and what they are doing is best for the company.

But bad managers can cause irrevocable damage to your business by hindering employee performance and causing stress. The first step in weeding toxic behaviour out of your business is recognizing you have a problem in the first place. Here are 11 signs of toxic behaviour you need to watch out for:

Poor coaching skills – getting frustrated when teaching new skills to employees
Lack of compassion and social skills
Anti-social behaviour
Not bothered about helping staff to progress
Takes credit for all the work
Blaming others for their mistakes
Is never wrong!
Belittles or ridicules others
Won’t listen to ideas
Gossiping and talking about others behind their back
Understand why someone is toxic
Toxic managers generally fall into one of three categories: narcissistic, dictator, or inadequate. Understanding how your toxic manager operates, how they view the world and what motivates them will help you to influence their behaviour. A manager acting from inadequacy may be able to change if given the right support and training.

It can, however, be extremely difficult to change ingrained behaviour, so not all toxic managers will come around to your way of thinking, in which case letting the person go may be your only option.

How a toxic manager is affecting your business
Ignore a toxic manager and you are most certainly hurting your business. Toxic managers affect your staff and their productivity much more than you think. Importantly, toxic managers are damaging to your entire culture. Here’s what a toxic manager can do:

Destroy morale
Impair staff retention
Deter cooperation
Reduce information sharing
Negatively affect employee emotional well-being
Increase absenteeism and presenteeism
How a toxic manager affects employees
Working for a toxic boss is extremely stressful. It can be humiliating, upsetting and soul-destroying for employees who feel unsupported and harassed. A bad attitude can also be contagious. Toxicity breeds toxicity.

Employees working in a toxic environment won’t be performing at their best. A toxic manager can make a whole team feel angry, dejected, cautious and uninterested in the jobs they are doing. This all has a massive impact on productivity, team cohesion and the development of new ideas. A bad boss can have a serious impact on employee mental health.

How to weed out toxicity
No matter how loyal someone has been to your business, if their behaviour is toxic it needs to be dealt with. Ignore the problem and you’ll suffer the consequences of productivity losses and lose good staff.

The first step is to confront them. This needs to be approached in a calm and non-aggressive way. Document the behaviour, suggest changes and support them in making changes. Here are some proactive things you can do to weed out toxicity:

Be proactive in detecting and handling dysfunctional behaviour
Hire external coaches to improve manager’s behaviour
Provide conflict training to staff
Review your grievance procedure so staff feel they are safe to whistle-blow
Offer company-wide training in toxicity
Understand your managers and your employees and support them. Creating a positive company culture is the pathway to success.

Source: The Undercover

14 June 2018

6 Ways to Plan for Employee Maternity Leave

Planning for maternity leave can be just as daunting for an employer as it is for the employee. High-calibre, valued employees will be missed, however important and exciting the reason they go on leave. But employers who manage maternity leave as proactively and positively as possible are more likely to achieve a gender-balanced workforce and to attract and retain talented employees after they’ve had children.

Here are some of our top tips on planning for maternity leave with a focus on keeping the employee, and their teams, feeling engaged, supported and valued throughout.

1. Don’t delay making plans
Start discussions and begin planning as soon as possible. This will help ensure a smoother process and ensure everyone feels supported. It could also prevent any recruitment mistakes if you do decide to appoint maternity cover, as you won’t be doing it in a rush.

2. Gather key information
Before you make any decisions, sit down with the employee and get a full understanding of their current role and any upcoming projects. Involve their line manager in the discussions if needed. People’s roles tend to evolve, especially in small businesses where they can be diverse with lots of different responsibilities. Use the opportunity to ask the colleague for their suggestions on the best cover option. What do they think would work best? What, if anything, are they most concerned about being successfully completed or maintained while they are on leave?

3. Consider all options
The best cover option will depend on the job role, seniority level, nature of work, size of the team, etc. Potential options include covering the role internally by sharing out work among colleagues. Careful consideration needs to be given to the rest of the team before taking this approach. Make sure the extra workload would be manageable and won’t cause resentment which could impact on the engagement and retention of other talented employees. If this is an idea you want to explore, be transparent and involve all colleagues who would be affected so they can see they are being considered.

An internal cover could also be created by having an existing employee step up into the position and recruiting a temporary employee to fill their role during this time. One of the advantages of this is that the employee who steps up will have plenty of existing experience and internal knowledge. But consideration needs to be given to how the employee feels about this and how it will impact on them when their colleague returns from leave. Alternatively, you may decide that the best option is to recruit maternity cover externally.

4. External recruitment support
If you’ve never recruited on a maternity basis before, it may seem like a daunting process. Interim and maternity leave recruitment is one of the areas in which professional recruitment agencies can add value. At Pure, one of our specialisms is temporary recruitment, and we regularly place candidates in maternity fixed-term contracts or short-term roles. Our expert consultants can guide employers through everything, from administration through to understanding the regulations around short-term contracts.

5. Plan for smooth transitions
When recruiting temporary employees to cover maternity, factor in some handover time for them to spend with the person they will be filling in for before they go on leave. This makes the transition period much smoother for all involved. It’s also worth doing the same when the employee returns to the business, so they have time to spend with the person who has been covering their role. This could also help to support a phased return process in which the employee initially starts back one or two days a week and builds back up to their contracted hours.

6. Discuss how to keep in touch
Whatever cover option you choose, don’t forget about your existing employee while they are gone. As an employer you have a responsibility to keep in touch, telling them about any changes which could affect them and ensuring they receive all the benefits of their normal terms of employment. Beyond this, discuss with the employee how much contact they would like while on maternity leave. How and when would they like to be contacted? What information they’d like to receive? Open lines of communication are key to maintaining a good relationship and engagement levels on return. As part of maternity leave employees are also entitled to up to 10 paid Keep in Touch or KIT days.

There are no obligations on either side to do KIT days and no hard and fast rules on what these days should entail. For a start, they don’t even have to be full days. But they can be very beneficial and can be used for the employee to join team away days, training courses, conferences or team meetings.

10 May 2018

4 Benefits of Conducting Exit Interviews

To put it simply, an exit interview is an interview which is conducted with an employee who is leaving the company. It’s rather similar to when you’re employing someone for a role, but instead of asking questions about why they want the job and why they want to work for you, you’re asking them for their reasons why they have left the job.

This interview can be the key to solving many issues within the workplace and is a great chance for you to find out what areas your business is succeeding in and what areas perhaps need developing.

So, what are the benefits of an exit interview?

1. It’s cost-effective
Taking into account that exit interviews don’t take up too much time, incur a little cost and provide valuable information, they are definitely a useful tool which you can to add to human resources. Going through the strengths and weaknesses of the business with your employee in the form of a chat or an interview is also really easy to conduct and is a small investment which will reap maximum rewards.

2. You will learn and understand why people leave
Learning why individuals choose to leave your organization will provide you with the details you need to fix the issue. The reasons are likely to vary from person to person and you need to understand whether it is a fault due to the organization, management or circumstances beyond your control. Possibly the employee was offered a role elsewhere with a higher salary, perhaps they are not seeing the progression that they were promised or maybe they are coping with personal issues which have caused them to leave. Knowing why someone has left will allow you to address any issues so that it doesn’t happen again.

3. You will identify any problems within the company
If you’re thinking about conducting an exit interview then you obviously want to improve your business. You want to create a place where people want to work. Exit interviews offer you with the information you need to make the working environment better for employees and also to improve retention. A lot of questions asked during an exit interview refer to the working environment. It can be difficult to know how employees feel at work whilst under your management. Some questions you could ask include “do you believe your job description has changed since you were hired?” and “what do you think the company can improve on?”

4. Closure
Exit interviews give you the chance to tie up any loose ends with an employee who is leaving. As well as asking questions about why they chose to leave, you’ll be able to provide them with information about their final pay and go through any documents which need to be completed by their last day. It’s also nice for both the employer and employee to leave the working relationship on good terms.

Although you won’t find out everything you would like to know in an exit interview, it’s a great place to start in gaining an insight into why people leave. Receiving constructive criticism and putting improvements into place will provide a better experience for current employees as well as any future employees.

Source: Undercover

15 March 2018

5 Reasons Why Your Employees Want to Leave

Imagine being in a situation where that star employee that you cant imagine running your business without wants to leave. And you’re sitting there thinking what have I done to allow this to happen?

Retaining top talent is as important, if not more important, then attracting new talent. And top talent quit their jobs all the time for a number of different reasons, but more often than not, the reason they leave has a lot to do with their employer. Here are a few reasons why that might be.

1. Low Salary
We’re starting with the most obvious factor; Money. When you’re offering an employee a salary that is below market standard, you better hope that you have a strong enough culture to keep them because more often than not that employee will want to leave.

How to fix: Money isn’t always everything to your employees but I implore you to stay on top of the competition, or at least stay at the same level to them, to keep your very best workers.

2. Lack of Opportunities
Employees will always seek growth opportunities and that is especially true to the Millennials and Gen Z’ers you have in the workplace. There’s a sense of direction that comes into play when you have something to work for or something to gain. Not only this, but employees want to grow and develop their skills.

If they are not able to grow, both in terms of their position nor their skills, then that might be the very reason you’re losing some of your most promising employees.

How to fix: It’s important you have set up constant dialogue with your employees to ensure they are happy, and that you have created an achievable path for them within the company.

3. Losing Meaning
At times your employee might lose meaning and purpose for what he or she is doing. They will begin to ask themselves if they are really contributing to something meaningful. To something that is actually bigger than themselves.

Meaningfulness is very often hard to define, that’s why it’s important your leaders continue to communicate your company’s mission to your employees, and what exact part they play within it. In many ways, it is your job to connect your employees to the ‘Why’ in ‘Why do I work here?’.

How to fix: Ask your employees questions such as:

What inspires you to work?
What makes you happy?
How does our purpose make you feel?
From this, you can form a baseline of understanding of what makes them tick and then facilitate a sense of meaning and purpose from this.

4. Lack of Autonomy
How many times do we tell employees that they will be their own boss, that they will have all the autonomy in the world to do their work and drive the business forward? But in the process of doing so, we’re still monitoring and micro-managing their every move.

Imagine having what is already very stressful role, coupled with the bickering and scolding of your manager on a daily basis. Doesn’t sound great, does it?

How to fix: Give your employees control. If an employee has a stressful job but has a certain degree of control over their work, it would help alleviate the negative emotions they might feel. This is because while an employee might feel stressed at work, there is a genuine sense of accomplishment that comes out because the company put their trust in that employee.

5. Lack of Appreciation
Or should I say lack of love? I think all employees want to feel confident in what they are doing but also within that they want to be appreciated and valued. For example:

Working in a poor physical environment
Being treated disrespectfully or ignored by their manager
Being paid unequally to their colleagues
There are tons of different ways an employee might feel unsupported by their company, and the larger the organization is, the worse this problem becomes.

How to fix: Create an environment of transparent communication between all levels of employees, and a system in place to ensure that managers are having a conversation with each and every one of their employees on a daily basis.

It’s important to note that these five factors are not the sole reasons your employees quit, but more often than not one of these factors plays a major role in their decision to leave. If you are able to keep appreciation, meaning, salary, independence, and opportunities in mind when thinking about each and every one of your employees, then you will more often then not retain the employees you have lost to in the past.

Source: The Undercover

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