Do You Speak to Your Staff?

Dear <<First Name>>

“Do you speak to your staff?” might seem like a strange question, to which the answer should obviously be “Of course I do!”

But how often do you speak to them? What do you tell them? What do you discuss with them?

Communicating with staff is frequently overlooked by managers and business owners, or not given the time and thought it needs. This issue of HR Watch will show you why it is so important and what you can do to improve communication with your staff.

There is also the latest (festive) instalment of the story of Bill and his business!

Best wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year,

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Do You Speak to Your Staff?

You can spend a lot of time and effort recruiting the right people for you business, but if you don’t look after them, why should they stay? One of the simplest ways to look after your staff is by speaking to them – by really communicating with them.
What do I mean by this?
Good communication is about sharing information about your business. It’s about not leaving staff in the dark. If you win a new client – celebrate it with your team. If things are tough, don’t cover up the problems – get your staff on board and tell them why you’re cutting costs or overtime. Don’t try to do it all on your own – ask your staff for their input in solving your business issues, as they may come up with really useful suggestions.
Show them you are listening to them. Everyone likes to be heard, so think about carrying out an employee survey. Find out what your employees think about where they work and any changes or improvements they would like to see. Remember to take action quickly as a result of the feedback you receive, to show your staff that you're listening to their comments or concerns.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is high on the agenda for many businesses. You can use volunteering projects to bring together people from different departments for some fun and team building. This allows staff in different areas of your business to talk to each other, when their paths might not normally cross.
More formal quarterly update meetings are good ways to speak to your staff too. Different departments can share with the rest of the company what they're doing and how they’re all working towards a common goal. Meetings like this allow people to ask questions about the business and where it’s going.
Make sure your employees know how you want them to do their work. Don’t just give them a job description and expect them to get on with it. Talk to each member of staff about what you expect them to do. If something isn’t working, find out why. Are they actually up to the job? Have you not explained it properly? Have they misunderstood what you want them to do? Asking these questions allows you to take an interest in the performance of your staff.
Regular appraisals are also a great way for managers to spend one to one time with members of their team. Too many people see appraisals as a time consuming, box ticking exercise. However, with a bit of guidance and planning, you’ll find that, done properly, spending time focusing on each member of staff can be very motivating for them. This can lead to much better productivity and improvements in your business.
There are many different ways in which you can speak to your staff – from relaxed informal chats to planned, prepared meetings. However you decide to do it, put in the time to really speak to your staff – and to listen to them – and both of you will see the benefit.


Practical HR – The Christmas Hangover

Bill had never given his staff a Christmas party before, but as they’d had a good year, he thought it would be a nice way to thank them for their hard work.

There was a smart hotel down the road that could host the event. He invited his staff and their significant others; the company paid for some food, drink and entertainment – how could anything possibly go wrong?

It all started well, until Ben realised that the drink was free! He had a few too many glasses of wine and started being rather rude to Betty from Accounts. Luckily, Ben’s wife was sober and could stop him from being rude to the boss as well, and drive him home.

Bob from Customer Services was having a great time. He thought the idea of a Christmas party with free drink was a very generous gesture from the boss and wanted to tell all his friends how great his boss was. So he took some photos of Bill, but he wasn’t sure who he was kissing so passionately under the mistletoe (it did look rather like Bryony from Sales!) Never mind – he posted them onto Facebook anyway and shared them with all his friends, including a number of his work colleagues. He forgot that Brian lost his job recently for not adhering to the company’s social media policy.

And the morning after? Bill had decided to hold the party on a Wednesday evening, as that was a cheaper option than a Thursday or Friday. As he walked into the office the next morning, he wondered why Belinda wasn’t on reception and why there was no one answering the phone that was ringing. And why was Bryony not at her desk either? He hoped she would be in later ... he wanted to talk to her about organising another company event.

Employment Law Update

This year there have been many changes to Employment Law. Here are some of the recent ones you need to know about.
Holiday Pay – on 4 November 2014, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) handed down its decision in three significant employment cases. It is a ground-breaking decision which gives some clarity to various European Judgments on the issue. Find out more about how holiday pay should be calculated on the Acas website.

Mandatory Pay Audit – Employers that lose a claim for equal pay or sex discrimination in relation to pay will, from 1 October 2014, be required to carry out an equal pay audit. You can find out more here.


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