How Black Lives Matter must change corporate culture

In the early hours of this morning as I fed my baby, I was inspired reading so many Martin Luther King quotes shared across my network. The most poignant to me was simple, “The time is always right to do what is right”. As an aspiring B Corporation we are committed to helping anyone with a real commitment to Diversity. Not just for the optics, B Corps are committed to doing social good and are required to consider the long-term effects of their practices on their workers. The entire point of a B Corps is to commit to values and stand for social good in the business world. There is no doubt that a diverse workplace is a social good. Ensuring that any person, regardless of their age, race, gender, or religion, has an equal chance at a job they are qualified for is one of the standards for a business that believes in social change.

However, as it turns out, social change is not the only reason to have a diverse workplace. Diverse teams are more effective too. A 2018 study showed that racially diverse workplaces were 33% more effective than average in terms of productivity and finances. Gender diverse workplaces did 21% better using those same metrics. And optics do matter. The positive press your organization will get for a diverse workplace will always outweigh the cost. But what is B Corps UK, and how do you properly diversify your workforce?

What is B Corps UK?

B Corps meet the highest possible standards when it comes to verified social and environmental positive change. They are publicly transparent in their actions to sure that there is accountability when balancing profit and purpose. They embody a global transformation to provide a more inclusive and environmentally friendly economy. Many of society’s most pressing problems can’t be solved simply by government or non-profit organizations by themselves. B corps use their finances and expansion to provide positive outcomes for their staff, the communities they’re in, and the environment at large. B corps work to lessen inequality and poverty while creating a healthier social environment, strengthening their communities, and creating more well-paying jobs for people of all backgrounds.  

How can you diversify your workplace?

Hire with an aim toward diversity: At the very start of your business or team, have inclusion be a significant part of your business plan. A diverse company or group tends to transform into a larger inclusive workplace organically.

Craft an inclusive narrative: People like to pretend to crave data, but what truly motivates us are stories. Make sure that the narratives you craft concerning your workforce are ones of successful inclusion. Whenever possible, blend your workers’ experiences from other cultures and backgrounds to share their stories openly.

Look at where your talent comes from: If you’re only drawing talent from premier universities, it will be challenging to create a workforce with diverse backgrounds. There is great talent to be found in smaller universities, non-profit organizations, and experienced workers that will broaden your staff’s diversity.

Start a mentoring program: When you hire new employees, assign them a mentor with more experience. Team new hires with people already steeped in your work culture. You don’t always need to create diverse teams. Let it happen organically. Sometimes the team’s goal may be more suited to people of similar cultural backgrounds, while at other times, mixed cultural heritage may improve the project at which you are aiming.

Ensure that there is diverse representation on all levels: If you are going to have a successful inclusive organization, having diverse officers is necessary. Executives will be doing the majority of the hiring, and without racial inclusion at the top, it’s unlikely that it will be represented in the rest of the business either. But ensure that there is inclusion mixed all through your business from top to bottom. A thoroughly diverse workplace will have a variety of backgrounds and cultures at all levels.

We need to rethink how we achieve diversity. The data shows that diversity is an idea whose time has come. Now we need to work on how to manifest it successfully. If you need support with diverse recruitment practices or a diversity programme, book in a call with us and better your workplace.

Do Employees Need to Believe in a Product to be Engaged?

Trust and integrity.

Or, more specifically, two powerful words that the future of your business relies on not just from your customers, but from your employees too.

These two emotive words make up a huge part of employee engagement. They conjure up a feeling of commitment and communication that happens between an organisation and its workers, and they help employees walk the path to productivity and joy in the workplace.

Engagement can be measured – whether it’s poor or great or somewhere in between – and it can be nurtured, just like it can be tossed to the sidelines.

So, just to recap, this is what it means for employees to be engaged:

  • It means the employee understands their role in the company and knows how they fit into the bigger picture
  • It’s about an employee having a clear understanding of how the company is fulfilling its overall purpose and objectives
  • It’s when employees fully feel like a part of the team, and feel trusted and empowered every single day
  • It means employees are party to regular constructive feedback from their superiors

Notice here how we don’t mention the product the company is selling, which begs the question: does an employee need to believe in the product of service to be an engaged member of staff?

This question has a deeper connotation.

Perhaps the better thing to ask is whether employees can connect to the purpose of the business. The product or service could be anything in the world, but if the employee doesn’t believe in the outcome it delivers, they’ll struggle to align with its purpose and, therefore, are less likely to be engaged.

How to align your business purpose with your employees

The key driver of purpose starts with whether your employees truly believe your company offers customers something that helps them solve a problem.

In a study by Deloitte, this was the number one factor employees stated when it came to defining purpose.

We can see from this that the work itself (or the product of service) is the most basic driver of purpose in the workplace.

Knowing that the work they are doing is going towards something useful and that customers are buying into a product that will actively help them makes up a major part of whether an employee is engaged or not.

Punit Renjen, the CEO of Deloitte, says the first step in creating purpose is to define why a company exists in the first place and the next step is to identify the impact it has on its customers and clients. “If tomorrow this organisation was to vanish from earth,” he says, “people would miss us because we made an impact that matters.”

How to Help Employees Believe in Your Business

It’s not just important for employees to believe in your product for their own engagement, but it also helps with sales too. According to research, 41% of consumers believe that employees are the most credible source of information in a company.

This means that, if your employees believe in what you’re selling, your customers are more likely to believe in it too.

So, if purpose and belief go along way in boosting employee engagement and sales, it’s time to start thinking about how you can instill that throughout your team.

1. Tie Purpose to Employee Values

It’s a common mistake from managers to assume that purpose is driven by huge company values but, while these do matter to a certain extent, it’s more important that the purpose of your business ties in with the personal values of your employees.

This is why it’s a great start to know what exactly your employees value both inside and outside the workplace. You can then position your purpose to fit around their needs and goals.

2. Discuss How Your Product Makes a Difference

Your employees won’t know whether they believe in your product or not if they don’t know how it makes a difference to the people that invest in it.

To do this, it’s important to regularly talk about how your products or services help customers and clients. To really hammer home the point, you can always invite customers to share their stories and experiences with your workforce.

3. Educate Your Team

As well as knowing how the product of service makes a difference to buyers, it helps if employees know where you’re positioned in the market.

In a study by Gallup, 3,000 workers were asked to assess their agreement with the statement “I know what my company stands for and what makes our brand different from our competitors.”

Surprisingly, only 41% of employees strongly agreed with the statement.

Which means – you’ve got it – that more than half of employees don’t even know how the company they work for is different from others out there.

Think about it: how can your employees believe in what you’re selling if they don’t know why it’s better than similar products or services out there?

Because of this, it’s important that you fully educate your employees on where your business sits in the market in relation to your competitors.

4. Be Consistent

Constantly changing the purpose of your business will confuse employees and make it difficult for them to fully get behind it.

As a result, it’s important to keep your values and positioning in the market consistent. Then, every single employee can determine where they sit in the value-purpose narrative and be engaged in a way that’s authentic to themselves and the company.

5. Grow Your Business With Your Team

Your employees quickly become a part of the business – they’re the people who are helping it grow every single day – so by inviting them to become a part of the process, you’re helping them craft a product and service they truly believe in.

Encourage them to get involved in guiding the direction the business is going in, and help them figure out their own purpose within that growth strategy.

Belief and Purpose Lead to Engagement

Belief in the product of service is just one part of what makes up the material of an engaged employee, but it helps boost other areas that are important.

When an employee believes in what they’re doing and selling, they’re more likely to be productive and become stalwart ambassadors of your business.

Over to you – how do you help your employees believe in your product of service?

The advantages of permanent working

While most people believe contracting pays more than permanent work, there is more to consider when choosing your preferred working status than the hourly rate. If you have the chance of a building your career doing a job you love in an environment you enjoy, why would you ever want to leave?

Here we take a look at some of the specific advantages permanent work has over contracting.

1. You can follow a distinct career path

While permanent work does not come with a guarantee of promotion, the chances of working your way up to a more senior role within an organisation are far higher than as a contractor.

Employers view permanent staff as long-term investments that can be trained, nurtured and rewarded to optimise their impact on the business. Also, it is far easier for an employer to promote from within the company than it is to bring in an outsider, unfamiliar with company processes and people.

2. You can enjoy a package of benefits

As you progress up the career ladder, not only does your salary increase, a range of other entitlements can come along that reward your continued commitment to the company. The most basic of these, paid holidays and sick leave, are considered standard for permanent employees. Others, such as private healthcare and gym membership, are increasingly common.

Add to this the other financial remunerations not available to contractors – such as a work pension, retirement plan and long-service bonus – and permanent employment starts to look very lucrative indeed.

3. You can feel secure in a job you love

In a permanent position, not only do you have the opportunity and build long-term relationships with your work colleagues, you can also relax with the self-assurance that comes with a steady job and an identifiable career path. While contracting can sometimes feel like continually looking for the next job, permanent work gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the job at hand, free from financial worry and job uncertainty.

4. You’re free from admin

When you are in a permanent role you are not buried in admin in the way a contractor can be. While a contractor’s paperwork can be a job in itself – from daily time-sheets to their annual tax bill – permanent employees are free to focus on their work, safe in the certainty of how much they will be paid at the end of every month.

5. You’re part of the team

While contractors are like hired guns, brought in to do their job then get outta town, permanent employees are able to play the long game. So when an employer sees a staff member chatting with colleagues over a coffee, for example, they’re bonding well as a team. When the same employer sees a contractor chatting with colleagues over a coffee, they’re being an expensive time waster who won’t get their contract renewed.

5 things successful people do in the morning

People who do well in their careers tend to start the day with a positive attitude. They claim the early hours of the day as theirs, and then they make the most of every moment.

Here are five fundamental ways you can use the early mornings to set you up for a successful day ahead.

1. Wake up early

Mornings offer a rare moment of liberty where you are free to do your own thing. So make the most of this ‘me’ time by getting yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn.

Early mornings are a matter of habit. It may be a struggle at first, but your body clock will soon adjust. And, it’s a lot easier when you are getting up to do something more interesting and fulfilling than just get ready to go to work.

2. Keep fit

Exercise delivers an energising boost to your mind as well as your body. A pre-breakfast workout – whether running, cycling, a yoga practice or a few press-ups, sit-ups and lunges – wakes you up and helps reduce stress later in the day.

By taking time to exercise first thing in the morning, you’ll start the working day with the energy and enthusiasm you need to maximise your productivity and performance.

3. Plan your day

While we sleep, our brains organise, process and prioritise all the information from the preceding day. Mornings, therefore, are the perfect time to create your to-do list for the day to come. The start of a new day helps you sort out the key objectives from the distracting clutter and put together a plan of action to achieve your goals.

4. Tackle a demanding project

The oasis of free time mornings provide is a rare chance to concentrate without interruption on a specific project. Resist replying to emails or looking over yesterday’s work – that sort of thing can eat up valuable time without achieving anything – and get stuck into something more significant.

Look at your plan for the day and pick out the most challenging task (which is usually the one that would not get done). Make progress on this and your day will only get easier.

5. Enjoy every moment!

It’s not all about work work work for successful people. They know how to have a well-balanced life. So savour every moment of your mornings. Talk with your family, walk the dog, water the garden, enjoy a leisurely breakfast. When you your mind, body and soul are well-nourished, you can approach the coming day feeling balanced and grounded.

One thing that makes people feel more inclined to make the most of their mornings is having a great workplace to go to. That’s where HR Rockstars come in. We’re the go-to people for any business that wants to build a solid team of highly motivated employees.

Now, let’s get to work!

Performance management: Tackling underperforming employees

Any business is only as good as the people it employs. Encouraging and incentivising each individual to optimise their performance, therefore, is crucial for the success of the organisation as a whole.

But how do you manage an underperforming employee?

This is where good performance management practice can help. When set procedures are in place, any performance issues can be tackled quickly and effectively.

What is underperformance?

Terms such as ‘underperformance’ and ‘poor performance’ can sound rather subjective. However, there are clear benchmarks to determine when an employee isn’t doing their job properly. For example:

  • Not meeting the agreed standard expected of them
  • Not following agreed workplace procedures
  • Not acting in an acceptable manner when at work
  • Disrupting others from their work
  • Damaging the prospects of the company through negative conduct.

How to manage underperformance

Here are five performance management tips to help you manage underperforming staff:

  1. Acknowledge the problem

Make clear to the employee in what way their performance is not meeting the standard it could. Make any feedback constructive, as it is in the employee’s interest to improve the way they work.

  1. Document any discussions

Keep a record of any meetings and action agreed to address the problem. This can be helpful for monitoring progress and demonstrating the attempts that have been made to help the employee improve. A well-organised performance management system will include a checklist for dealing with such situations.

  1. Identify where they need to improve

Support the employee in anything they need to do to overcome what is causing them to under-perform. This may involve training, for example. Continually keeping your employees’ skills up to date can help to prevent problems of underperformance occurring in the first place.

  1. State a definite course of action

Be precise about what is expected of an employee and where they are falling short – especially after action has been taken to remedy the problem. Anything less formal can result in ambiguity, which makes any future dismissal harder to justify.

  1. Assess your own performance

Poor performance among employees could be the result of poor performance at management level. Have your own performance assessed and audited according to your company’s performance management criteria to ensure you are providing the best guidance and communication to assist the employees you are responsible for.

Following up after underperformance issues

Regular follow-up meetings should be held following any attempt to tackle underperformance issues. This provides an opportunity to assess what progress has been made and examine what further action may need to be taken.

Employers should recognise where performance has improved and praise the employee for successfully addressing the challenge. Of course, if performance doesn’t improve and an employee has not changed their behaviour as you have requested, it will be necessary to issue a clear warning and begin to consider removing the employee from the business via a dismissal procedure.

But that’s an issue for another blog.

Putting performance management into action

HR Rockstars Process

Some people incorrectly use the term ‘performance management’ to describe little more than the traditional staff appraisal – but it covers so much more than that. Performance management is a holistic system, designed to ensure everyone contributes in the most positive way to the strategic objectives of the business as a whole.

What does performance management involve?

Here are some typical elements of a performance management system, covering every aspect of working life, from recruitment to departure:

  • Clearly defined job descriptions, so prospective employees are crystal clear about what they are required to do
  • Carefully designed selection processes that seek out the most suitable people for every role
  • Individual performance plans incorporating key performance indicators for each task
  • Established job requirements, achievement-based performance standards and details of how they will be measured
  • Continuous training, education and feedback, tailored to achieve specified objectives
  • Quantified training outcomes measured against agreed standards
  • Regular discussions regarding employee performance, based around performance benchmarks
  • Worthwhile systems for rewarding employees who exceed expectations in their work
  • Career development opportunities and support for those wishing to advance or change their role
  • Exit interviews to uncover the root causes behind each employee’s departure.

Remember, performance management is about the whole workplace working in harmony. So it is the overall package that constitutes the system, not the individual components.

How does performance management improve outcomes?

Performance management puts in place an ongoing form of accountability that focuses on continual progress rather than a short-term review at appraisal time. When implemented correctly, performance management can result in company-wide transformations that benefit employers, employees and organisations as a whole.

Employees are happy because they are rewarded for what they do, both financially and in other ways – at a personal, group and company level. Possible career paths are made clear so employees can work towards their desired goal.

Employers are happy because they attract candidates that are ideally-suited to each position and benefit from the increased retention of high performing workers. They can analyse specific aspects of productivity and identify what is and what isn’t working. Efficiency increases thanks to more effective working practices, better communication and a training that is tailored to the task at hand. This all leads to high-performing employees and reduced overall costs.

An improved company culture brings everyone behind the same single, clearly defined objective. Individuals understand how their personal contribution helps achieve the wider goal – which boosts morale, reduces stress and increases productivity among employees.

Performance management is one of the most effective catalysts for unlocking the potential of individuals, teams and entire companies. However, it is also one of the most misunderstood and poorly implemented management systems. While it has been shown to be highly effective, installing a successful performance management system into a workplace can be hard work.

Outsourcing the task to HR Rockstars, however, means you can enjoy all the benefits of performance management without the hassle of implementing, maintaining and managing the system.

The increased demand for flexible working

Until recently, flexible working was reserved for a limited number of careers, typically those involving short hours and unskilled work, such as cleaning or waiting on tables. Now, however, flexible working has entered the mainstream.

Flexible working can encompass a variety of options that provide employees with the opportunity to fit their work around their other commitments. This can include part-time work, remote work, job sharing or working irregular hours. 

No more nine to five

The world of work is a very different compared to just a decade ago. Where once the bulk of employees would gather in the workplace at 9am and leave at 5pm, the demands of the 24/7 consumer culture and improvements in technology have made flexible working hours a necessity for many businesses.

This way of working resonates with the growing demand from employees to have more control over their time. No longer are they tied to the 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday. Now, working hours can include any time and any day.

In 2014, the UK government gave all employees the legal right to request flexible working. This seems to have encouraged the move to more alternative ways of working, with CIPD research showing 54% of employees now work flexibly.

Why do more people want to work flexibly?

As well as the familiar flexible workers, such as mums with young children, the flexible workforce now comprises other groups that have emerged in recent years. There are the so-called sandwich generation, who have young children and old parents to care for; there are people choosing to continue working into old age. But reduce their hours; there are the millennials seeking a better work/life balance from their jobs.

In many areas of work, the UK is facing a skills shortage. Technological advances allow employers to fill these skills gaps with workers working remotely from further afield than would previously have been possible.

The benefits of flexible working

Flexible working benefits employers and employees alike. For employees, the biggest benefit is gaining more choice over when and how they work. For employers, embracing flexible working makes it easier to attract and retain the talent they need to grow. It can also cut the cost of their overheads, especially when remote working is involved. In addition, with a workforce working non-traditional hours, employers can offer their customers the kind of 24/7 service they increasingly expect.

To fully exploit the benefits to both employer and employee, we will need workplace culture to become fully immersed in the flexible way of working. At present, some sectors and some businesses are faring better than others. However, by training managers to make the most of the opportunities that flexible working presents us all, and by creating flexible roles at all levels of an organisation, our working culture will finally break free from the strictures of the 9-to-5.

Tackling sickness and absence in the workplace

Are you sick of people saying they feel ill? Do you feel faint when you hear there’s (another) bug going round? Employee absence through sickness is an unavoidable aspect of any workplace, but it becomes a problem if it escalates beyond what is reasonable to expect.

While every employee has the right to be ill, measures can be taken to ensure absence does not become unmanageable. Here are some of the most effective methods:

  1. Promote attendance

Praise and reward staff that do not take time off, such as by awarding a small prize to the most present employee. Obviously you do not want people to feel they are doing something wrong if they are genuinely ill, but an incentive such as this could encourage a more positive mindset about attendance.

  1. Have a strict sickness policy

If you take a casual approach to people calling in sick, it will give the impression you are not that bothered and encourage all employees to take ‘sick’ days. A policy by which a named member of staff must be informed before 9.30am by telephone, for example, would make the fakers think twice.

  1. Follow up absences

Don’t just let the absentee slip back to work as if nothing has happened. Make it a policy for them to have a meeting with their manager to provide a clear explanation and any relevant proof of their illness, such as a doctor’s note. This is also an opportunity to identify any root causes in the workplace that you may be able to deal with.

  1. Give employees a reason to be present

It’s no coincidence that self employed people rarely have days off sick. They take complete responsibility for what they do, so they are motivated to do a good job. And you can’t do a good job if you’re lying on the sofa watching ‘This Morning’. Try to engender some of that self-employed ethos in your workplace. Give employees control over their own work so they really want to be there to do it. As well as decreasing absenteeism this will create a positive can-do atmosphere in the workplace.

  1. Be flexible about working hours

Of course, some employees may never miss a day of work and stay late at their desk after everyone else has left – but that does not mean they are particularly productive. The more industrious employees may see others shuffling papers at their desk, chatting with colleagues and taking all day to accomplish the simplest of tasks and feel justified in taking a couple of days off occasionally. If you can measure the work done by what is actually accomplished rather than the number of hours employees are present in the office, then employees could earn the extra time off.

  1. Offer duvet days

Being able to ring into work and take a day off at short notice, sometimes called a ‘duvet day’, has great appeal for many employees. These floating holidays are typically used when employees would otherwise call in sick – such as when they have a hangover or are feeling rundown and unmotivated. Allowing employees to be honest about these days off will create a culture of honesty in the workplace and increase staff morale.

What millennials want from an employer

If your business wants to succeed in the digital age – you’ll want to recruit millennials. But first you need to understand how they differ from candidates from previous generations.

Born towards the end of the twentieth century, millennials – also known as Generation Y – are the first truly digital generation. For them, social media and smartphones are a natural part of everyday life. Where others try to keep up with new developments, millennials are ahead of the game. They are perfectly at ease with modern technology and the new way of living, working and communicating it brings. So, when it comes to recruiting millennials, what do they look for in employers?

The opportunity to fulfil their potential

Millennials don’t work for employers, they work with employers. They are in control of their own lives, and they see employers as an opportunity to realise their ambitions. And, if they are not getting the fulfilment they seek, they are happy to leave and find an employer who is more conducive to their needs.

Despite being unashamedly ambitious, millennials are not interested in working their way up the company hierarchy by virtue of long service and company loyalty. They aim to succeed by proving their worth, and they look to training and development programmes as a way to maximise the value they bring to an organisation. Providing a continuous flow of growth opportunities is essential if employers want to attract and nurture the best millennial talent.

The flexibility to blend work and life

Millennials are not confined by the 9-to-5. Instead of counting the hours spent at their desk, they believe the only meaningful measure of productivity is the value they add to the organisation.

Work is a vital part of their lives, but they see no need to implement artificial restrictions on when and where they can do their job. Work and home-life are not two separate entities for millennials, they overlap and integrate seamlessly. Offering maximum flexibility, therefore, by removing boundaries on working hours and physical location is key to bringing millennials on-board.

The values to give work purpose

Millennials are motivated by making a positive impact on the world. The purpose of their work matters more than simply chasing profit. They judge companies by the way they treat customers, employees, society and the environment, as well as the products they create and the services they offer.

For employers to attract millennials, therefore, they must be underpinned by a solid ethical foundation. There must be real purpose to their role and the aims of the business as a whole.

Adapting your organisation to thrive in the digital age means recognising that technology is transforming what is possible – and that millennials are the driving force behind these new possibilities.

To make the most of what the millennial generation have to offer, it is essential to understand and embrace what makes them different from previous generations. While it is important not to alienate employees who do not share the millennial mindset, taking steps to respect and utilise the unique contribution every generation can make will ensure your organisation has the mix of talent to succeed now and in the years ahead.

Employee Assistance Programmes: Good for employees. Good for business.

An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is an employer-funded scheme that gives staff the opportunity to contact an independent adviser, by telephone or in person, for confidential help with a range of issues that may be causing them concern.

By helping staff deal with a range of personal problems, whether financial, emotional, mental or physical, EAPs defuse issues that would otherwise adversely affect employee’s performance at work.

Create a happy, healthy workplace

EAPs aren’t only for major difficulties, they are there to support employees’ general wellbeing and bolster their resilience in an increasingly stressful workplace. By providing their workforce with access to EAPs, employers see returns in terms of staff productivity, attendance and an upturn in workplace morale.

Research by Canada Life in 2015 found that employees with access to EAPs were three and a half times more able to cope with the demands of their job. In the same study, the number of employees rating their relationship with their colleagues as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ rose from 46% before using the service to 79% afterwards.

EAPs are rapidly becoming a mainstay of the modern workplace, with employees welcoming the opportunity to take advantage of professional help that makes them feel happier in themselves and more productive in their work.

Key benefits of an EAP for employees:

• It’s convenient. A 24/7 telephone helpline is usually part of the service, making EAPs more accessible than most non-work based services.
• It’s comprehensive. EAPs are there for employees to discuss a wide range of often interrelated issues. For example, if debt worries are having a detrimental effect on your health, your mental wellbeing and your work, an EAP can help you address all aspects of the problem.
• It’s confidential. The professional providing the help is not part of your company, they are a third party provider. So, just like when you visit your GP, any discussions that take place are entirely private and off the record.

Key benefits of an EAP for employers:

• Improve performance. An employee that feels fulfilled in their job and is free from any adverse physical or mental conditions is someone that is able and willing to give 100% of effort to their work.
• Reduce absenteeism. Happier, healthier employees are more motivated and more able to cope with workplace challenges.
• Increase retention. Many people attempt to tackle stress by changing their job. An EAP, on the other hand, helps them deal with the root causes of the stress while building on their existing role.

EAPs are much more than a simple workplace perk. By providing employers with the means to handle serious employee issues that they would otherwise be unable to deal with, they enable strategic interventions that can transform the workplace, at an individual level and at a team or departmental level.