Holidays – the silly season is nearly upon us

Holidays – the silly season is nearly upon us

This is the time of year the rows start – the annual leave booking season. Wall calendars and online calendars are pored over and leave is booked, most of it around the same time, there will be rows between parents and non parents about who should take priority and why and on we go.

So it makes sense to have a few set of rules to try and take the tension out of the whole thing.

Firstly be clear about how much leave can be blocked in one go i.e. one, two week blocks (financial services now insist on this), if there is a cap i.e. two weeks maximum etc

Secondly, be clear how much advance notice must be given, a month’s notice is usually acceptable if you want to book a week, 2 days is not acceptable if you want to book anything at all and if leave needs to be approved by a manager or some such.

Thirdly, be clear leave can be refused, obviously as a last resort and with good reason but it’s good to get the story straight.

Fourthly, be very clear about how many employees can be out at the same time. It never ceases to amaze me, no matter how often you say it and set the limits, they will give it a go anyway and all book the same time off and fight about it for weeks afterwards.

Fifthly, be very clear what precedents you want to set i.e. if you had the first two weeks off in July last year, you might not get it this year, same goes for half terms, school holidays and Christmas.

Sixthly, what the rules are if you are sick on holidays (holiday can be claimed back if proven), if your flight is delayed (usually unpaid, get proof) and you don’t get back when you are supposed to, the rules around social media and mixing the professional with personal, working on holiday, using the work mobile on holiday etc.

And as an aside, it’s amazing how many of my clients who are schools that have set holidays agreed years in advance, encounter the same problems with leave! So if you are a school struggling with leave requests outside of school holidays, call me 0330 555 1139.

Finally, be fair, consistent and apply the rules to all staff, no exceptions.

If in doubt contact CrosseHR, we’ll draft a policy for you to be proud of.

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Office Christmas Party

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Office Christmas Party

The office Christmas party is the biggest event of the year in the work social calendar. It’s the opportunity show your employees your appreciation for their hard work throughout the year, and it’s the chance for your team to let their hair down and celebrate their achievements. It can also be a place where new friends are made as people get the chance to mix socially with others outside their immediate teams. But it can also be an HR nightmare! It’s often a time when frustrations that have been built up throughout the year are released, and the presence of alcohol can really fan the flames of any bad behaviour.

To help you plan the perfect, and problem free Christmas party, follow our simple ten step guide.

1. Don’t skimp. If you are going to throw a Christmas party, it’s important that it falls within budget, but it’s also vital that your employees feel that they are really appreciated. A good Christmas party can be an excellent retention tool, and also a way to demonstrate your company’s fantastic social culture. A few sausage rolls and an hour early finish is not going to cut it and may run the risk of having the opposite of effect, leaving your team with a bitterness that can last well into the new year.

2. Be personal. If your budget doesn’t stretch to lavish celebrations that’s fine. But try and give your event the personal touch by downing tools early and getting the whole team involved in games and light-hearted fun. Perhaps get each manager to personally acknowledge each of their team member’s achievements or share funny stories. Remember to take the opportunity to ensure your leadership team stand up and thank your employees for their hard work and reward them with a Christmas gift as a token of your appreciation.

3. Make sure everyone is invited. It’s so important to make sure everyone feels included in the celebrations so they feel appreciated. You may have employees on holiday at the time or on long term maternity leave, but they should be included none the less.

4. The party is a work related event. Treat it as such. The same rules you employ for all work events are just as relevant here and employees should be reminded of so. You should have a policy for work events that outline inappropriate behaviour such as aggression, lewd remarks, unwanted advances and misconduct. Employees should be aware that their actions could lead to disciplinary proceedings.

5. Allocate managers to monitor alcohol consumption. There may be some employees who take the free bar too far. Ensuring you have some managers on the lookout for any excess will allow you to keep control of consumption and prevent alcohol-related problems before they arise.

6. Make sure your party is inclusive. You should make sure all your staff feel welcome. Perhaps some do not drink, or others do not celebrate Christmas at all. Make sure you think about these members of staff as taking the time to consider their needs will make them feel truly appreciated and included in the celebrations.

7. Investigate and take action. In the unfortunate event that someone oversteps the mark at your party, it is your duty as an employer to investigate the situation and take action. Just because it is the Christmas party does not mean it’s a free for all for antisocial behaviour and you have a responsibility to the rest of your team to ensure any misconduct is dealt with in line with your disciplinary policies.

8. Office romances. Love can often blossom between employees at the Christmas party. In a recent survey, 55% of people admitted to a festive kiss with another employee. Perhaps it’s all that mistletoe! Be clear on your stance on office relationships. If you require them to be disclosed, make that known and take action if necessary.

9. Be careful of social media. Social media can be an excellent way of demonstrating your company’s amazing culture by sharing photos and updates from your party. On the flipside, it’s important to have control over what is shared. Inappropriate photos can damage your reputation. Also, some employees may have grievances with their embarrassing photos being shared online. Ensure you have a carefully considered social media policy in your business to protect yourself and your staff.

10. Deal with staff absences. If your Christmas party falls on a weekday, it’s no surprise that you may find yourself with surprising numbers of absences the next day. Your teams should be reminded that the following day is just like any other work day and that they will be expected to act professionally and arrive on time. Use your HR team to deal with any unauthorised absences.

By following these simple rules, your employees should leave your Christmas party full of festive spirit, without leaving any nasty HR headaches for you to deal with. For further advice on dealing with HR concerns during the Christmas period contact us on 0330 555 1139 or by email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

Stress busting

Stress busting

I came across this fantastic info graphic (don’t you just love them) about managing stress in the workplace drafted by Unum UK.

Every organisation should have a policy on dealing with stress (Crosse HR can help with this). Dealing with stress is a fact of life and should be an integral part of every organisation’s Wellness and wellbeing programme. Show you care. Start with this.

This infographic was crafted by Unum UK. Unum UK helps manage stress at work as part of employee benefits.
Share

Tortured geniuses. Every small business has one.

Tortured geniuses. Every small business has one.

I recently attended the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A in London. Even if you have no interest, or in my case the wallet, to purchase any couture or high end designer clothes, you could not fail to be in awe of the man’s extreme talent and unbelievable imagination. It did strike me though more than once when I was gazing at a structure for the head, aka a hat or an ethereal dress, how did this genius die alone hanging in a wardrobe in his home clearly having had enough? He had the world at his feet literally, surrounded by the world’s beauties, making pots of money for his employers, yet no one appeared to have any idea that the guy was in a state and about to take his own life. How can this happen? How can you spot the signs of stress, depression of mental health issues at work?

Spotting the signs of stress, depression or mental health issues at work

In my experience this is all too common unfortunately. Most of us either aren’t aware of the signs of stress, depression or mental health issues, or tip toe around them when we encounter them at work. It’s a hard thing to confront, but I firmly believe that employers can train their people to spot the signs and provide help. Shouting, explosions of tempers and crying are all sure fire signs all is not well, as is increased sickness absence, coming in hung-over, dilated eyes, unkempt appearance, dips in performance where previously there has not been any, rapid weight gain or loss, as well as firm denials when asked.

Clear policies are the route to a clear conscience

Now its not easy to tackle, or identify anything is wrong, but having an employee assistance scheme in place is a step forward Employee Assistance is otherwise known as EAP, which is basically a service employers can buy (usually from their Occupational Health provider like BUPA or HCA) where employees can ring a confidential helpline to discuss their problems and seek advice usually on divorce, debt, redundancy, depression, problems at work. Its totally confidential but can be very useful for some people. EAP doesn’t cost that much, and CrosseHR can help.

Even without EAP you can still make positive steps to supporting employees who are showing signs of stress, depression or mental health issues. Introduce a clear policy on how the organisation tackles stress (usually under Health & Safety policy or a separate policy), and have a nominated person or organisation that employees are made aware of as someone they go to initially if there is a problem – that might be someone internally such as Occupational Health, or external counselling services, the GP, or the Samaritans for example.

Whether you have an employee assistance scheme or simply an internal policy, make sure it’s well promoted, you foster a general atmosphere of openness, and promote good management practices – it’s amazing what regular 121’s between managers and their reports can reveal and not just about work. It all goes without saying that a ‘human HR person’ always helps and not one obsessed with the rule book! As a final note, the Mental Health Foundation itself calls for us to learn ‘mindfulness’ which is sound advice to any business. You can read more on that here.

Believe you me, and I have proof, if you spot a problem an employee is having, support them, offer them help and they sort it out, you will have a loyal, dedicated employee for a very very long time, not to mention a clear conscience !

 

Image credit: Nata Sha / Shutterstock.com