Your guide to ensuring that your line managers are improving performance:

It doesn’t take a business guru to tell you that if you want your company to thrive, you need to make sure that your staff are firing on all cylinders. Of course though, as is often the case when it comes to the tricky business of managing people, this can be much easier said than done.

If you want to achieve big things, you need clear and effective processes in place to help you to get there. Your line managers play a huge role in creating a productive and high-performing culture, and you need to ensure that you’re driving them in the right direction.

Here, we share some of our tips for encouraging your line managers to step into their roles and play an active part in improving performance.

Create procedures that underpin your objectives

Your line managers can often only operate within the constraints that you provide them with. If you want them to excel in particular areas, you need to create a framework that allows them to do so. For this reason, it’s important that you consider what you already have in place that helps staff to reach their full potential.

Do you have a policy that outlines how often and in what format performance discussion should happen? Is there something in place that ensures the work is being carried out? Who ultimately chases things up to ensure that procedures are being followed? It’s not necessarily about ticking boxes, but you do need to create systems that encourage the day-to-day tasks to be carried out.

Give your managers the confidence and skills they need to have meaningful discussions

Unfortunately, making sure that performance discussions are taking place is only the first hurdle. It’s not so much about frequency, as it is about the quality of the conversations that are happening.

At the end of the day, talking about performance and addressing areas of concern can be daunting, even for the most experienced line managers. It’s important that you give them the opportunity to hone their skills, and to keep developing them on a regular basis. Consider how you can do this within your business. It may be the case that you need to roll out some training sessions, or perhaps you need to have your own one-on-one discussions with your management team so you can better understand how you can support them.

Encourage your managers to facilitate career development in their teams

Performance management isn’t just about fixing problems and making sure that the work gets done within a specified frame of time. It’s about looking ahead towards the future and ensuring that your business has the right kind of talent to drive operations forward and achieve growth.

The key takeaway here is that if your employees aren’t being given a chance to flourish, they’re likely to start looking elsewhere. Do you really want to lose your talented members of staff to your competitors? Be sure that your line managers are having open and honest conversations with their direct reports about where they see themselves in the next five years, and that information is taken seriously and considered when it comes to planning the direction of the business as a whole.

If line management capability is something that you want to improve, we can help. We believe that successful businesses are created when leadership teams are given the tools they need to excel. Contact us for an initial discussion about how we could bring our practical approach to your business.

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Your appraisals probably aren’t fit for purpose. Here’s what to do about it:

Recent research from PwC revealed that two thirds of larger companies are thinking about revamping their appraisals processes. The 2015 Performance Management Research found that businesses are becoming increasingly eager to ditch the once-a-year approach and instead concentrate on developing practices that create a continuous feedback culture.

It’s often suggested that it’s time for appraisals to be scrapped in favor of more business-focused solutions, but it’s unlikely that savvy leaders will be taking them completely off the agenda anytime soon. After all, if you want your staff to achieve great things, you’re going to have to ensure that you’re giving them the right kind of support. Appraisals still have a very important role to play.

But it’s true that it may be time to update your approach, and consider how you can make your performance management systems really work for your business. Read on to find out more about the directions that you might want to take in the future.

How can you harness technology?

Technology is changing the way that we work and the way that we carry out our everyday tasks, so it makes sense to think about how it could be used to provide a better solution to facilitate effective performance management. Some leaders will see this as a headache, but once you get past the teething issues, it could prove to be one of the best things that you ever do.

A system that’s accessible on the go could be just what you need to make sure that assessing performance is something that happens on a regular basis, and not just at the end of the year as a last-minute activity. The beauty of turning to technology is that you can create a system that meets all of your needs. Want the ability to hold discussions remotely? Want staff to be able to quickly upload evidence of their achievements? Anything is possible. The prospect of having less paperwork will certainly appeal to many!

How can you provide value for your employees?

One of the main reasons appraisals are sometimes so passionately disliked by employees is because they fail to see the value that they can offer, not just to the business, but to themselves as individuals. Performance management mechanisms can be seen as a way of ‘checking up’ on them, and bringing to light the areas in which they aren’t hitting the mark. When you think about it like this, it’s no wonder that you’re struggling to get your staff on-board.

Consider what kind of changes you might be able to make to turn the tables. How can you ensure that the process helps employees to reach their own career goals and get to where they want to be in your business? And importantly, what happens after the discussions have taken place? Your workers are much more likely to feel that the process brings value if they can see that changes are being made and that they’re being enabled to sharpen their skills.

Keep your eye on the bigger picture, but also try delving deeper into the aspects where you can make a real change. Need a little help with getting off to a great start? Get in touch. We’d be happy to discuss how we might be able to assist when it comes to getting your appraisal processes up to speed.

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Are your staff too busy thinking about the holidays at the moment? Here’s how to turn things round:

That time of year is here again. Holidays are being booked, the weather changing, and workers across the country are looking forward to a bit of well-deserved time away from their desks.

But while many people will be worrying about how much they can squeeze into their luggage allowance and whether last year’s clothes still fit, many business owners will have a more pressing concern. As temperatures start to change, how do you ensure that the season doesn’t have a negative impact on productivity?

As always, we’re here to help with some practical suggestions. Read on to find out more about what you can do to ensure that you’re doing all you can to avoid any problems.

Organize the holiday schedule in advance

If you find yourself in a situation whereby 50% of your employees are off at the same time, it’s quite likely that you’re going to run into difficulties.

Obviously, it might be a bit late to get this sorted out for this year, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to think about how you’ll approach the working calendar next year. As well, it won’t be long before you’ll have to start thinking about how you’ll manage your staff over the next holiday period, so you can probably take away some very important lessons.

Bring the holiday feeling to your office

When the weather changes and there are – let’s face it – many other things that your employees would rather be doing than sitting in the office, it could be worthwhile to think about how you can raise spirits and inject a bit of oomph back into proceedings. If some members of staff are away on holiday, you can ensure that those who are left behind aren’t feeling deflated and demotivated.

Your approach here needn’t cost you a fortune, and there are many options for you to choose from. Could you contact a nearby personal trainer and ask them to lead an indoor or outdoor workout for your staff? Small gestures can make all the difference.

Give your HR processes an overhaul

It’s natural that there will be certain times of the year when you notice a change in productivity. Sometimes, slight fluctuations are unavoidable, and you need to simply do all you can to minimize the impact. If reduced productivity has become a longstanding problem though, it’s time to address the reasons why, and do something about it.

Your people processes and procedures will often provide you with clues, and they can also be the remedy. Is your business suffering as a result of poor management practices? Are you using outdated systems? Are your employees dissatisfied with certain aspects of their roles, or the way in which the business is being operated?

An overall HR health-check could be exactly what you need to start making some positive changes. We’d be delighted to have an initial chat with you about how we could help.

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Are you really getting the most out of your HR practices? Find out here how to raise the bar:

As a small business owner, you probably started your own business because you’re passionate about bringing your product or service into the world, and providing a much-needed solution for your customers and clients.

This people management stuff – it’s not necessarily what you signed up for. Call it a necessary evil if you like, but the fact remains that if you want to grow a thriving business, you can’t get away from it. You need practices, procedures, and policies in place that ensure that you’re hitting the mark and developing the right kind of team to guarantee your future success.

If you take your finger off the pulse or let the grass grow under your feet, you could find yourself with problems that have been deeply embedded into your company’s culture, and these can be extremely difficult (not to mention expensive) to fix.

Wondering whether this might apply to you? Recognizing that you might not be firing on all cylinders is the first step towards fixing any issues and turning things round.

Here, we ask some questions about where you currently are, so you can start to establish where you might need to make changes.

Are you suffering from high turnover rates?

Recruiting good staff can be expensive. Giving them the skills and developmental support that they need to excel in their roles can prove to be costly, too. In an ideal world, this is an investment rather than a cost. But if your staff are deciding to move on to new pastures, this can be a huge problem.

You’re likely to notice the impact on the bottom line, and it may well be the case that you’re also damaging your employer brand. If too many people are leaving, the word will get around, and people will start to ask why. This could lead to you struggling to attract top talent in the future.

Are you unsure about whether you’re really meeting your legal obligations?

All business owners know that they need to be compliant with relevant employment legislation. When push comes to shove though, are you confident that you’re meeting your obligations? If you’re not, the nagging concern that something could go wrong is likely to constantly be at the back of your mind.

If you found yourself in a situation in which you weren’t fulfilling your requirements, it could prove to be devastating. Often, all it takes to ensure that you’re where you need to be is some advice from a professional. The peace of mind that this can bring can be worth its weight in gold.

Are you struggling to meet your overarching business goals?

HR is no longer about handing out cups of tea and sympathy. Robust HR practices will always be in line with wider company objectives, and they’ll actively help your business to get to where you want it to be. Take a second to think about what HR looks like in your business, and whether it’s really fulfilling its potential.

Do your practices improve productivity? Do they encourage your staff to be the best that they can be, and reward them accordingly? Do they play a significant role in facilitating business growth? If not, you’re missing out.

Though the points we’ve discussed here are really just the tip of the iceberg, they’ll hopefully give you plenty to think about. If you’re falling behind, the main thing to remember is that action is the only thing that will help you to remedy the problems. The sooner you decide that enough is enough, the better.

Give us a call today!

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Mental health in your workforce needs to be at the top of your agenda. Find out why:

Recent news has highlighted the issue of mental health in the workplace, and the need for employers to ensure that such matters are right at the top of their agenda.

If one thing is for certain in light of tragic circumstances that are highlighted in the news, it’s that we can no longer view mental health problems as a taboo subject that can be pushed to one side. Owners and managers in businesses of all sizes need to ensure that they fully understand the impact that illnesses like depression can have on their workforce, and take a proactive approach to fulfilling their responsibilities.

Mental health problems cost employers a huge amount of cash every year. Promoting good mental health can have a multitude of benefits. So isn’t it time that you started giving it the careful thought that it deserves? Let’s take a look at some key areas where you can start making improvements and fulfilling your obligations.

Create policies and processes that are supportive, not restrictive

There are always going to be events that take place in an employee’s private life that a business has no control over. From relationship breakdowns to financial worries, there’s a broad spectrum of issues that can impact a person’s mental health and cause them difficulties.

Just because it’s not related to work though, doesn’t mean that managers can’t play a positive role in ensuring that individuals are suitably supported. Think about responsibly managing workloads, creating a positive working environment, and facilitating happy workplace relationships. The benefits of this can be far-reaching, and include increased productivity and morale, boosted staff engagement, and higher staff retention.

Handle personal data sensitively

There may be times when you gather information from your employees about any mental health issues that they may be facing. It may come to light in the recruitment process, for example, if they require any reasonable adjustments to be made so they can attend interviews, or further down the line if the employee needs to take time off work due to their illness.

It’s really important here that you handle the date sensitively, keep it confidential, and inform the individual how the information will be used. Never assume that you have their consent to discuss their problems with third parties, and keep them involved at every stage of the process. This is not only a right of your employee, but a legal obligation that you need to adhere to.

Encourage communication

It’s important to promote awareness of mental health problems at work, and of course, communication is essential here. Be prepared to talk about the big issues, and encourage employees to sit down and talk with their managers if they feel like they’re struggling. This is sometimes easier said than done, and can involve a culture shift, but ultimately will help you to reap the best rewards.

Be sure that your line managers have the skills to handle these conversations. It’s likely that they may need some extra training, and regular refresher sessions are a wise choice when you’re dealing with such a sensitive subject.

Of course, it isn’t possible to discuss all the complexities of mental health in the workplace in just one post. A cookie-cutter approach isn’t necessarily going to give you the results that you need, especially if there are problems already deeply engrained in your business’s culture.

Want to speak with a professional about how you can make real progress in terms of promoting employee well-being and effectively handling mental health problems? We’d be happy to discuss strategies with you, and the practicalities of implementing them.

Give us a call today!

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31% of employees think their boss should help them to lose weight. Do you agree?

According to recent research, almost one third (31%) of employees believe that their employer should help them to lose weight.

As more and more of us spend a huge chunk of time in the office, it’s not surprising that workers are starting to think that businesses should take more responsibility for the health of their workforce. Obesity is an issue that’s continuing to have an impact on our society as a whole, and the consequences can be extremely serious.

The study involved 582 adults in full-time or part-time employment in the United Kingdom (UK). 34% said that they felt their bosses had a moral obligation to help them to lead a healthier lifestyle, and 35% believed that incentivised weight loss programs could be a way forward. Interestingly, men were slightly more interested in weight loss schemes being offered by their employers than women.

A big question here is whether or not this is really a ‘work’ problem. A little further digging though demonstrates that the two are actually very closely linked. By giving employees the tools they need to get in shape, you could be minimizing absence due to sickness and also creating a workforce that’s productive, engaged, and motivated.

It could be the case that this survey highlights an increasingly popular school of thought. A ruling from the European Court of Justice stated that severe obesity should be classed as a disability. As well, back in October 2014, the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, issued a report suggesting that employees in England could be awarded with cash or shopping vouchers for losing weight as part of a plan to tackle the obesity crisis.

Regardless of whether or not you think that you should play a part in keeping your employers trim, the key takeaway here is this: They’re starting to expect more from you than ever before when it comes to health and wellbeing, and if you want to keep your business profitable and productive, you can’t afford to ignore this. We can help!

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Want to help your staff get in shape, while boosting productivity at the same time? You probably haven’t considered this solution!

It’s that time of year again.

And it’s pretty likely that health kicks and lifestyle overhauls have been the subject of many discussions in your workplace.

Fad diets and beach bodies aside though, when’s the last time that you took a moment to consider how you’re promoting health and well-being to your employees?

It’s something that can have huge benefits for your business (from reduced staff absence to boosted morale and productivity), but it can also seem a bit wishy-washy on the surface. Of course you want to do all you can to make sure your staff are happy and well, but what practical steps can you actually take to facilitate this?

One option is to partner with local businesses to bring an exciting agenda of positive health and fitness messages, education, and initiatives into your workplace.

How this works is pretty simple on the surface. You pinpoint companies operating in your local area, and get in touch to invite them to share taster sessions with your members of staff, for mutual benefit. They get to increase the awareness of their services and build connections with those who are interested in what they have to offer, and you get the opportunity to create an exciting programme of events.

Of course though, you need to get some strong foundations in place if you want to make sure that it’s a success. Here, we’ll talk you through a few key things to consider.

Do your due diligence when it comes to choosing who to work with

You want experts who know their stuff sharing their advice with your employees. It’s really important therefore that you choose only businesses with sensible philosophies. Messages around moderation, eating real, whole foods, moving more, and making sustainable long-term lifestyle changes are the ones that you should gravitate towards.

Businesses that promote crash diets or living on packaged shakes should be avoided.

Make it clear that ‘hard sell’ isn’t appropriate

Your employees won’t appreciate it if you arrange for them to be stuck in a room for an hour with someone who’s going to try to force them into spending a fortune to take part in their latest programme. Avoid this by having a frank conversation from the beginning with the businesses you’re working with. Whilst it’s fine for them to mention that they have certain solutions available, your staff shouldn’t feel like they’re sitting through a sales pitch. The focus should be on providing useful information. Savvy business owners will know that this can organically lead to potentially lucrative relationships, but they won’t have to force it.

Keep your eye on the bigger picture

Running this type of initiative can be a great kick-start if you’re looking to put health and well-being on the agenda. Remember though that it isn’t a solution in its own right, and it isn’t a band-aid. For the best results, think about your wider policies and procedures, and the overall workplace culture. It might be the case that there are big issues at play that you need to tackle, such as a trend amongst your managers for requiring staff to work long shifts without a break away from their desks. You can’t fix everything at once, but you do need to take a holistic approach.

Partnering with local businesses can be a win-win solution when it comes to promoting well-being, and as you can see, it’s something that’s manageable for organisations of any size.

Is this something that you’re interested to pursue? And when will you be taking action?

Give us a call today!

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Do you suspect that your staff might be ‘pulling a sick day’ today? Here’s what to do:

It’s inevitable that from time to time, your members of staff will get sick. It’s to be expected, and it’s something that you can’t really avoid as you grow your business and your workforce.

As an employer though, you need to be sure that you’re managing your sickness policies and procedures in the right way. Without a robust approach, you could quickly find that sick leave or absence due to sickness is seriously damaging productivity, and in turn, your profits.

So what’s the solution? Check out these four tips for ensuring that you’re covered.

Create a clear policy so staff know what it expected of them

Your sickness and absence policy should cover how and when staff should notify the business that they need to take time off, details around provisions for return to work interviews, and any links to other relevant policies such as disciplinary procedures.

A policy isn’t worth anything if it isn’t clearly communicated and implemented. Be sure that your line managers are onboard, and have any necessary training that they might need.

Understand the role of your employee’s GP

The ‘sick note’ is now a thing of the past. Instead, GPs provide a ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’, otherwise known as a ‘fit note’. Instead of focusing on what the individual can’t do, it’s centered around the tasks that they are able to carry out, which can be really helpful to you as an employer.

Be as supportive as you can, and remember that there will often be low-cost solutions that can help your member of staff to get back to work.

Consider how you’ll support staff when they return to work

If an employee has been off for a lengthy amount of time, or they’re still not quite feeling 100%, you need to give some careful thought to how you can ensure that they have the right support when they return. Otherwise, it can be exceptionally daunting for them, and you could run into some serious problems.

In practical terms, there are quite a few possible solutions here. Treat each case individually, and always liaise with the employee to discuss their needs and preferences. You might offer a phased return, reduced working hours for a set period of time, or extra assistance with carrying out tasks.

Be proactive rather than reactive

Dealing with sickness issues is much harder than preventing them in the first place. There are positive changes you can make to how you promote physical and emotional well-being in the workplace, and these are far more effective than efforts to problem solve once the damage has already been done.

Could you change working patterns so workers get enough sleep and aren’t left feeling tired and stressed out? Could you bring in a package of more flexible benefits that include things like health care or gym memberships? How about up-skilling your management team so they can spot problems like stress and take action to rectify them? A creative and proactive approach could do wonders for your business.

If you’re experiencing problems with sick leave, sick pay, paid sick days or absences, we can help!

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Think you need to recruit to grow your business? Make sure you’ve assessed ALL your options!

There comes a time in the working lives of many business owners when they think that recruitment is their only option. Orders are increasing, profit is looking extremely healthy, and they’re keen to expand and take things to the next level. Sound familiar?

At this stage, it’s likely that your nearest and dearest are urging you to take the plunge and bring on your first member of staff.

Of course, it should go without saying that you should rarely turn to friends and family for business advice. They might have the best intentions in the world, but they’ll very rarely understand the real challenges that you’re facing. If you want real, insightful guidance that can be used strategically to grow your business, you’re probably going to have to invest in professional consultancy services.

Generally speaking though, there are some important indications that you’re ready to recruit. It’s a big decision and it isn’t one you should enter into lightly. Pull up a chair and take a browse through these real reasons why it could be time to become the big boss.

Building and managing a team is in line with your overall business objectives

Think about what you really wanted to achieve from your business when you first started, and the type of company that you wanted to develop. Maybe you envisaged managing a team of hundreds of people, and playing an active role in strategic growth and development. Or perhaps what you really cared about was fulfilling your passions, and doing work that made a difference to the lives of your customers and clients.

There are no right or wrong answers here, but the truth of the matter is that people management isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have the desire to recruit, there are other options. You could outsource administrative and financial functions. You could bring in a contractor for certain months of the year. You could redesign your processes so many of them are automated, letting you deal with the work that you really care about and excel in.

Don’t be forced into feeling that the traditional recruitment route is the only avenue you can take. Explore the possibilities, and always return to your overall objectives and preferences before you back yourself into a corner that you don’t want to be in.

You’re willing to put time into developing yourself as a team manager

Whether or not you have a naturally ability to lead, recruiting staff for the first time is a steep learning curve. You suddenly have to get to grips with what makes people tick, how you can get the most out of them, how to handle bumps along the road, and ultimately, how to improve your leadership skills on a daily basis.

You need to be willing to invest time into this, and get the right type of support to help you along the way. From one-off courses to continuous mentorship, there are options that ensure you have what you need and can pinpoint your areas for improvement. There’s the option to outsource necessary tasks such as the creation of your company handbook and associated people policies, but it’s as much about developing the right kind of culture as it is about meeting your legal responsibilities as an employer.

You’ve examined the figures, and you know that recruitment would build your business

Some business owners are naturally very data orientated, and have no problems telling you their exact figures and projected big numbers. If this isn’t your strong point though, you need to do some careful calculations before you make any decisions around recruitment. Think about what it would cost to grow your team. As well as the salary, consider the investment that would be required in finding and selecting the right people, onboarding them, and then ensuring they have the right ongoing training and development.

Next, think about what you’d reap from that investment. Would your business produce more? Would you offer a higher level of customer service? Would it give you the capacity to move into new markets or areas? Only when you really understand the financial implications are you ready to make your decision.

The bottom line is that recruitment is certainly an option, and it’s right for some businesses. For others though, there needs to be some careful brainstorming and analysis before any big decisions are made. If you want to talk through your choices, get in touch today.

Give us a call today!

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Think HR is all about fighting problems as they arise? Here’s why you’re wrong!

Think that HR is just about making sure that you don’t break the law, and having all the right paperwork in order?

You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that. It’s an approach that many business owners take, even in huge organizations that have the time and the resources readily available to do things differently.

Here’s the thing though.

If your HR practices are limited to firefighting problems – like dealing with disciplinary issues, or handling poor performing members of staff – then you’re missing out on one of the biggest opportunities that you have as a business leader.

Your people are your lifeline. They can make or break your business, and they can be the difference between just-getting-by, and creating an organization that’s the leader in its industry, and the one that’s known for being the very best.

Too many companies are selling themselves short, and ultimately, these will be the ones that struggle in the ever-changing landscape of modern business.

Being mediocre with your people policies isn’t saving you money, or freeing you up to deal with more important matters – it’s actively holding you back.

Take a second to think about the role of HR in your own business, and what you should be aspiring too.

How could the right leadership allow you to…

  • Double your productivity levels, which in turn could maximize your profits?
  • Attract the very top talent in your industry, allowing you to bring the best innovative solutions to market?
  • Increase the morale and motivation of your workforce, creating an environment that’s a pleasure to be part of?
  • Earn recognition as an exemplary employer, winning you prestige and national press coverage?

Once you step outside the constraints of thinking that HR is just about ticking boxes and fulfilling your obligations, you open up a whole new world of possibility.

Now’s the time to up your game. Will you rise to the challenge?

Give us a call today!

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