Tag Archives: employee

Employers Charter – A step in the right direction.

Yesterday saw David Cameron announce The Employers Charter, measures announced to give businesses added confidence to grow and create jobs.

Something had to be done to stem the flood of applications to Employment Tribunals witnessed in 2010, which increased 56% on 2009 to 236,000.  The average cost to employers to defend themselves was £4000.

it is absolutely right that legislation exists to protect hardworking, dedicated employees from those less scrupulous employers.  However the balance had been lost, the power placed squarely in the hands of the employee.  Employers of all shapes and sizes had become nervous, fearful even, of dismissing an under – performing employee for fear of the repercussions.

That is not healthy.  It certainly does nothing to encourage employers to hire.  Quite the opposite.  It costs nothing for the under-performing employee to launch a claim.  That in itself encouraged a whole host of “chancers” to pursue a payout, having been advised by the no – win no fee brigade that they had nothing to lose to pursue a claim.  The wasted management time was enormous, the legislative cost vast, nobody wins.

The answer to this has been to introduce the prospect of a fee for employees to fight an unfair dismissal claim.  A great idea, certain to prevent any such chancers from trying their luck.  Those that know or can be advised that they have a genuine case for unfair dismissal will pursue such a claim and have every chance of winning, rightly so.  Employers are afforded a greater degree of protection and will as a consequence feel more confident about the prospect of hiring.

To add to that confidence is the proposal that companies would have greater freedom to dismiss under – performing workers, extending the current period from one to two years.  I am not convinced this measure is necessary.  If someone is not performing in your business, you know early enough.  If they have been performing and after a period of say 12 months that performance starts to tail off, it is managements responsibility to look at the reasons behind that decline and to performance manage that employee back to “health”.

After all, you have invested enough time, money and resource getting them through the door, getting them trained and in to the DNA of your business that it is absolutely right to support them.  Still the principle behind the move strikes me as a positive one, business friendly, jobs friendly.

If you are a committed, motivated, hardworking employee you have nothing to fear in the new legislation.  I for one applaud these steps.  We have allowed an entitlement culture to develop.  If something goes wrong, who can I blame?  How much can I get?

A nonsense.  If you are a responsible, hardworking, decent, honest person then you have nothing to fear in this change.  If you are the kind of person who thinks life owes them a living, then I am afraid you are wrong and you will get what’s coming to you.

I am all for the Employers Charter.  The reaction from business and employers groups would appear to be broadly supportive.  A step in the right direction.  Next step, tackle the cost of employing someone and reduce the cost of Employers NIC’s.  Now there’s a thought!

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Is it ever a good time to go back?

Growing up in England in the 70’s and 80’s with a passion for football that engulfed my life, Kenny Dalglish was a superstar.  My statement is not born out of blind hero-worship (since the age of five I have been an Arsenal fan).  Dalglish was the star player and then Manager of a Liverpool team that swept everything before them to become the most successful team in English Football history (cue complaints from Manchester United Fans.  Sorry, statistically this is true).

This weekend Dalglish was re – appointed Manager of Liverpool Football Club, having resigned 20 years ago.  It is a great move from a PR perspective by the employer.  To draw business parallels, Dalglish is the Shareholders choice, the person on whom the hopes of resurrecting former glories rests.  The club is in disarray, they have not been champions of the top division in England for 20 years.  Much has changed in that time.

The Premier League is a global product, full of hugely talented players ( and some less so ) from all four corners of the globe.  In 1991 when Dalglish resigned, players in the top league came from all four corners of the British Isles.  Dalglish has held a couple of Manager roles since, but with nowhere near the same degree of success that he enjoyed with Liverpool.  Is he at risk of destroying the legend?

Should you ever look back to a former employee to return a company to former glories?

It’s a brave move by Dalglish.  The hero-worship he enjoys amongst Liverpool fans will protect him from  inflicting any long-term damage on the Dalglish legend.  It will certainly buy him and the owners of the club time.  Time that perhaps a Manager without the same history and status within in the club would not enjoy.    He has a massive job to do, not least on employee engagement.  The team look disillusioned, disenfranchised, disjointed.

Time is against him.  He has only been appointed until the end of the season.  The opportunity to create even a 12 month plan is not available to him.  He must create a short-term vision, communicate that vision, ensure all are behind that vision.  Those that don’t buy in, he must move on.  He has major recruitment issues to address as the club has arguably only 3 players that are talented enough to meet the vision the majority of stakeholders (the fans) have for the club, but he has little time to do it.  Can he attract the right talent with only a short-term objective to communicate?

The appointment has certainly lifted morale.  There are examples in business when a superstar CEO returns to transform a business.  Think Steve Jobs at Apple. Business and Sport are short-term results games.  In business it’s all about this month, this quarter, this half-year, this annual return to shareholders.  Sport is even more short-term, it’s all about the next game.  In both cases, you are only ever as good as your last result and stakeholders can have short memories.

For success you need a long-term outlook, a clear long-term vision,  to be given the time to build that vision.  The short-term nature of much of sport and business means little time is devoted to succession planning, to developing the leadership stars of the future.  As a result success is only ever short-term.

The success that Liverpool enjoyed in the 70’s and 80’s was built entirely on constant planning not only for today but for the future.  Dalglish was one of a long line that read Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish.

He was the last in the line.  He didn’t build for the future, didn’t plan for his successor and Liverpool has suffered ever since.  Will he do it this time?  Can he build a platform for the future on which the club can enjoy sustained success?  Only time will tell.

It is a short-term move that reeks of desperation, of lack of a vision and long-term plan by the board.  They have put a tourniquet on a gaping wound and stemmed the flow of blood, for now.  Unless the club gets major surgery fast, the legend that is Dalglish will be tarnished.  Is he the man to deliver it?

Employers and Shareholders need to be patient.  Hire slow, fire fast.  Keep moving forward.  Look back to learn the lessons from history.  Build for the future from the lessons of the past.    Steve Jobs is a rare example.  Don’t go back, go forward.  In the meantime good luck Kenny, you are going to need it.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership, Recruitment

Should Social Media be banned in the workplace?

The debate still rages.   Social Media – Productivity drain or Marketeers dream offering untapped and untold revenues from places as yet unknown?  This debate still polarises opinion as evidenced by a recent survey from McAfee, the Computer Software Anti – Virus Giant.

1000 executives were surveyed from 17 countries.  75% of companies surveyed usual web 2.0 applications for marketing and customer service or for crowd sourcing rather than outsourcing projects or tasks.

Tellingly, countries with high growth economies such as Brazil and India are more likely to view social media as a potential source of revenue.  Could this be that as a rule they are more open to challenging assumptions, to testing the status quo?

Despite the obvious upside evidenced by the survey, more than 50% of those surveyed prohibited Facebook use in company hours.  The larger the company, the more likely the prohibition.  Around 25% of those companies monitored employees social media use for inappropriate behaviour.

What’s the real issue here?  According to the McAfee survey, employers principal concern around web 2.0 applications centre around its use as a platform to deliver malicious software.  More than 70% of those organisations surveyed lost more than $2m as a result.  Whilst clearly an issue, is this not just simply an excuse?  Bottom line, company execs consider employees using social media are slacking off.

I remember being told only 15 years ago by the Managing Partner of a large well-known Law Firm that not everyone in the practice would have a personalised email for fear that important information would be passed to the outside world.  He was also convinced that chargeable time would suffer as employees would be emailing friends to arrange that evenings social activities.

I know employers who have banned mobile phones in the office.  What does that do for talent attraction and employer branding. Do you want to work for an organisation who trusts you and treats you like an adult or one that doesn’t?   On the flip side are you ready to behave responsibly in the work place?

Social media is just the latest  toy on the desktop and its revolutionising the world of work in the same way that the mobile phone and email did.  Management has to work out a way of engaging with it to the best advantage of all involved.  Ignoring it is simply down to a lack of understanding and trust.

In my experience rarely do people come to work to do nothing all day.  If they do and you hired them that’s your fault, you hired the wrong person in the first place.  Trust people, set them objectives, engage them, inspire them, manage them, lead them.  Treat them like grown ups.  If they behave like kids, treat them accordingly and deal with it.  That’s management.  Banning social media says much about the failings of management.  It’s here to stay, take it for what it is, a great tool to reach out in new and exciting ways to customers that five years ago you could only have dreamed off.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Social Media

The times they are “a-changing”

We are living through a revolution.  In years to come this period will be studied, picked apart, analysed, reviewed and commented upon in much the way that the Industrial Revolution is studied today.   The old rule book is being ripped up.  New rules are being written every day.  Its exciting and scary and in no place is this more keenly felt than in the jobs market.

Jobs for life are a distant memory.  There was a time when you left education, got a job and stayed with that employer until you retired.  That is almost impossible to comprehend today.  Research has suggested the latest wave of graduates will average between 3 and 5 career changes in their working lives.  The British Government is to scrap the default retirement age in 2011.  We are all living longer and working longer and working practices are changing rapidly.

I met with a client yesterday, an incredibly successful, dynamic, profitable, fast growing business.  There are no fixed working hours.  You can come and go as you please.  I don’t think I have ever met a happier, more committed group of employees.  Google has its 20% time.  It has had it since the day it began.  Each employee can dedicate one day per week to whatever project they want.  This is where Google gets its innovation from.  I know of employers who offer no fixed holidays.  You have a set of objectives to deliver, how and when you deliver them is entirely at the discretion of the employee.

Freelance working is booming in the UK.  A recent survey from http://www.PeoplePerHour.com evidenced more than half of small businesses interviewed used freelance workers at last once a month.  The earnings of freelancers have grown tenfold in the last 12 months, with each freelancer averaging take home pay of £2000 per month.  Home working is on the rise.  People are demanding more flexibility from employers, they wish to be treated like adults.  Our systems of work that are so dependent on the structures placed upon us by the education systems of generation Xers is being challenged by the expectations of generation Y.  This disruptive challenge is creating innovation in employee engagement.  Take Zappos, one of the most succesful retailers on the planet.  Have a look at the core values frog to understand how to genuinely engage with your people and build a great company at the same time.

A conversation recently with a successful company owner highlighted the challenges employers are facing.  He has had his company for 20 years.  It has operated very successfully in this time but is now really struggling to attract the talent it needs to realise its future ambitions.  This is a recent challenge, but they have not changed how they go about attracting and engaging with talent.  They are doing the same things today as they did 20 years ago and are struggling to understand why they are unable to meet the talent needs the organisation requires.  That adage if you always do what you always did you always get what you always got no longer applies.  You need to really understand what your employer brand represents today and both what you want it to represent and what it needs to represent in the future.

The right people are your greatest asset.  Think long and hard about how you attract, retain and engage with them.  The rules have changed, the times have changed.  Historically in a market with high unemployment the balance of power rests with the employer.  This is no longer the case.  If you want to attract the very best talent to your organisation think differently.  Long live change.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Hiring, Talent

What goes around comes around. The story of Jenny and 3 basic rules of management.

This week a woman called Jenny resigned from her post in what has subsequently become one the most public of resignations.  It’s a great story and a real example of what goes around comes around.

Success as an employer is never guaranteed.  Whilst countless volumes and column inches are dedicated to the science (or art) of management there is one adage that holds true regardless.  Treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself.  If you can remember this (and on many an occasion I have failed in this regard) then you will go far.

It would appear Jenny’s Boss, Spencer, did not share my view.

Having put a call through to him, Jenny was about to hang up when her Spencer was heard by Jenny to refer to her as a “HOPA”.  For those of you not familiar with the term, it stands for Hot Piece of Ass.  I think you are starting to get the picture as to the kind of employer he may be.  This was as I am sure you can imagine the final straw.  It was how she resigned that is where the story starts to get interesting and is a lesson for any employer who continues to adopt such an a lousy attitude to people.

Jenny resigned by placing a series of statements on a dry – erase board.  She photographed these and emailed them around to her 20 or so colleagues.  These photos make for a highly amusing and entertaining story, not only evidencing Spencer’s views of Jenny but also how he spent his time online.  You see Spencer decided to monitor how his employees spent their time online.  He gave Jenny the passcodes to enable her to compile reports on this for him and at the same time gave her access to how he spent his own time online.

4 hours week trading stock, over 5 hours on Tech Crunch getting the latest technology news and the icing on the cake……….

19.5 hours per week playing Farmville!

The full details of the story and the slides (which are worth a look, they are very well done and extremely entertaining) can be found at the excellent http://www.mashable.com (just search for the story entitled “Woman Publicly Outs Boss for Playing “Farmville” at Work”.

Think of the impact on this company in terms of employer brand.  There are countless examples online of employers who have screwed up royally.  Sure that happens, nobody is perfect, but technology is such that the repercussions can do untold damage to your business if that employee decides to vent publicly via email, text or any other electronic means of communication.  Historically this would have been a conversation with close friends over a bottle of wine after a bad day.  Today this is a conversation with the whole world.  Never has there been such focus on how employers engage with employees and this will only continue.

I suspect Spencer’s monitoring of his staffs online habits were in part driven by his own guilt.  After all this guy’s in charge and he spends more than 80% of his work time on non work related activity.

Lesson one, lead by example!

Lesson two, don’t ask anyone to do anything you aren’t at least prepared to do yourself.  Or at least don’t have one rule for one, and another rule for everyone else.  Staff at this firm weren’t considered it would appear adult enough to work out for themselves what might be an appropriate amount of time spent online so Spencer felt he needed to keep check on his people.  Treat people as adults and in my experience the majority will behave like adults.

Lesson three.  Treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself.  Its simple, easy to remember and costs nothing.

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Privileged Influence

There is much to love about being a recruiter.  No one day is ever same.  For the recruiter at the desk, the opportunity to engage with businesses of every shape, size, sector, product means that every day is a learning experience.  Every candidate we meet has a unique combination of skills, experiences, aspirations, motivations, behaviours.  What other industry offers such diversity?

On a personal level, the opportunity to engage around the leadership table with the people who are shaping and transforming businesses means that on a weekly basis I get to add the latest module to my personal MBA, as I listen to the challenges those business leaders are facing.  I can’t fail but to learn from my experiences.

To have worked in this industry for the last 17 years has been a huge privilege.  Yes we get some bad press, the majority of which is caused by our own actions and behaviour, but I want to stand up for the part we should play in creating a thriving economy for all.

As Recruiters we have a huge opportunity to transform people’s lives.  I have sat with many a job seeker who has been at a really low ebb, disillusioned, de – motivated, disappointed in their place of work, with their circumstances and in many cases with their lives.  The desire to change their situation, the responsibility for that change has to come from the individual.  However the recruiter can play a huge part in affecting that change for the better.

If by finding out what makes that individual tick, their skills, talent, motivations, aspirations, we can find the right seat in the right company for them, it has a massive effect on their life, their happiness and potentially their wealth.  Get it wrong and the impact can be just as massive in a very negative way.

Think of the place the recruiter has to play in the creation of wealth.  Put the right person in the right business and that combination can transform the future of a company.  It can have a massive impact on the creation of jobs, wealth and opportunity for potentially large numbers of people.  This doesn’t just mean placing the person at the top.  The introduction of a trainee who thinks up a new product, process or service can have equally as positive an impact on a business.

It doesn’t matter who you are placing.  What matters is making sure you get it right.  If we don’t take this seriously, the damage can be severe.  If the job is done properly, our impact is immense.

As Recruiters, in most cases we don’t make the hiring decision.  The decision as to who to appoint or whether or not to take the job offer rests with the employer and potential employee.  We are simply the broker, the middleman, the conduit.  However our ability to influence should not be underestimated.

Many will accuse me of delusions of grandeur.  I make no apology.  The vast majority of us spend most of our waking time at work.  The responsibility for and, opportunity to, open doors for people who may not otherwise have been available to them is a huge privilege, something I take seriously and one of which I am immensely proud.

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Filed under agency, Careers, Hiring, Job Creation, Recruitment