Jeni McCabe

Jeni McCabe

Wednesday, 22 March 2017 09:40

How to improve performance at work

How to improve performance at work

 

Every workplace has a mix of highly performing staff and lower performing staff.  If only you could find a way to improve staff performance at work so that everyone in your team was a high performer.  

 

Well now you can!  

 

Studies have shown that there are several key ways to improve performance at work and save money!  It’s not about working harder, it’s working smarter.  A study by CIPD revealed that 59% of respondents feel that job satisfaction is the highest motivating factor at work.  What would your team say if you told them that you can make their jobs easier and reduce their working hours while improving productivity?

 

So what’s the secret?  It’s easier than you might think.  All it takes is a bit of planning and structuring.  Here are a few pointers to get you started...

 

  • Recruiting the right staff is the first step to ensuring you have the right person in the right place.  Make sure you have strong job descriptions, use skills testing during interviews, conduct a full induction to the business, set KPIs and support the new start to achieve them.
  • Set company and departmental goals, use them to set individual KPIs, monitor and support staff to achieve their goals, provide positive feedback.  Remember that everyone wants to do a good job and don’t underestimate the motivational benefits of having a sense of achievement.  
  • Be a strong leader and lead by example, engage with your team and set clear tasks, be reasonable with them and listen to their concerns, be supportive to your team and they will be supportive to you. Daily meetings or huddles are a great way to maintain engagement.
  • Manage all poor performance and conduct issues from the start.  Don’t allow issues to build up, it will only create bigger problems.  Be firm but fair.  Support staff with mentoring or training to help develop their skills.
  • Recognise staff for their individual skills and efforts.  And don’t forget to say ‘Thank you’ from time to time.  Intrinsic rewards cost nothing but can make all the difference.

  

It’s important that you know what areas of your business that you want to improve.  Use key measurements to assess where you are now, and where you are after you put the above systems in place.  

 

There are of course many ways to achieve better performance from your team at work.  If you would like to find out more, come along to our ‘How-to HR’ training seminar on 28th April 2017 in Dundee.  Click here for full details.  

 




Why Should I train my staff?  

 

Here’s the top 5 reasons why you should train your staff...

 

Some business owners are scared that if they invest in training, their employees will take the qualification and leave.  Therefore a competitor may benefit from their investment.  But the use of Training Agreements can work well to help protect your training investment.  And if you're not willing to invest in your business, why should anyone else?

 

There are many reasons why you should invest in training your staff.  But let's look at the top 5 reasons.

 

  1. Training is an investment in your business.  And like any other investment,  you'll want to see a return on it.  The return may not be instantly obvious and can sometimes be difficult to measure.  So make sure you have identified the need for the training and the skills that you want to improve. Find a suitable course or training plan that fills that skills gap. Then you should look at how to measure the skills both before and after the training.   For example, if you want to reduce accidents in your business, use your accident logs as measurement before the training and after.  A good course is the IOSH Managing Safely for managers and IOSH Working Safely for staff.

 

  1. If you want your business to grow, develop and be successful, then your employees have to grow, develop and be successful. Your employees are your largest asset and can make or break your business.  It's up to you to lead them in the direction that you want your business to go in. Keeping their skills up to date is just as important as keeping your own skills up to date.  And if you don't,  you run the risk of your business coming to a grinding halt while your competitors race on ahead.

 

  1. There have been many studies conducted on motivation at work with slightly varying results.  But all suggest that everyone wants to do a good job and feel valued at work.  Training your employees will allow them to perform better and give them a sense of achievement. It will also make them feel valued as they know that you are willing to invest in them.  In return, not only do you have better skilled staff who are performing better, but you also have more motivated staff which means a stronger dedication to your business.  

 

  1. Resource planning can be difficult, particularly in smaller businesses. You might have an employee who has been with you long term and knows your business better than you do! But what will happen when that person leaves or who covers these duties during absence or holidays?  It's much better to have a multi skilled workforce as it gives you a more robust business.  Having the majority of experience and knowledge in a handful of employees only, is a very risky strategy.  So plan for the long-term future of your business by ensuring you have people ready to take over key roles when required.  Also consider the technical advances in your industry and stay as up to date with them as possible.  

 

  1. If for any reason something goes wrong and you find yourself in court or at an employment tribunal, the first thing you'll be asked is to prove that your staff are competent.  This means that you'll have to show evidence of your employees ability to carry out the job that you had asked them to do.  Training records are crucial to defending any such claim. If for example you had asked an employee to carry out a reasonable task that resulted in them being injured. Training records and assessment measuring would show that you had taken reasonable steps to ensure their safety and that they were indeed competent to carry out that task.  That small investment could save your business thousands of pounds.

 

SCRSolutions Ltd offers training in HR and Health & Safety matters.  We often work with local partners to provide a wide range of training services.  We also have a newly accredited IOSH health & safety training centre in the heart of Dundee.  

 

Here are some of our forthcoming courses and seminars that will be held throughout Dundee.  

 

  • How-to HR - 16th February, 9.30am - 12.00pm - Personnel Administration and Contracts. This will include how to keep files in line with data protection, different types of contracts and how to change or update contract terms and conditions.   Click here for details.

 

  • DSEN Event - FREE - 17th February - Overview of Employing Staff. Open to all aspiring Social Enterprises and DESN Members.  Contact DESN for full details.  

 

  • CeeD Event - FREE - 22nd February - 9.30am - 12.30pm - Recruitment & Retention of Staff.  Looking at best practice in the Engineering sector with a live case study from a local manufacturing company.  Click here for details.  

 

  • Tribunal Proof Dismissals - FREE - in partnership with Dundee Business Week and Elevator - 23rd February - 2.30pm - 4.30pm.  Learn how protect your business from tribunals by making safe dismissals.  Click here for details.  

 

  • IOSH Managing Safely - OFFER - 16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th March - Gain a Nationally recognised certificate in health & safety at a great offer price.  Click here for details or phone us on 01382 250333.

 

  • How-to HR - 30th March, 9.30am - 12.00pm - Training & Development. This training will look at how to conduct a training needs analysis, identify the correct training, sources of funding and how to measure return on investments.  Click here for details.  

 

Our qualified advisors can also offer support on conducting training needs and analysis, and measuring return on investment.  Simply click here to get in touch and see how we can help your business.  You can view all our event on our Eventbrite page - click here.  

Monday, 23 January 2017 09:38

Confessions of an HR Consultant

Confessions of an HR Consultant

 

I’m often interested in what other people perceive my role to be.  Some think it’s all about hiring and firing whiles others seem to form the opinion that it’s more of an old fashioned personnel paperwork role.  Even my friends will sometimes ask “what is it that you actually do anyway?”

 

Yes, I am involved in hiring and firing, and everything else in between.  Working with a variety of clients from 5 staff to 170 staff, and across a wide range of sectors, every day is different.  It’s difficult to give a short explanation, but when I have to it goes something like this…

 

“I help other businesses to manage their staff effectively to improve their overall business performance.  It may be through performance management, absence management, disciplinaries, training managers and supervisors on better HR and management practice, improving health & safety, or providing a sound business structure with staff handbook policies and employment contracts.”

 

...how does that sound to you??

 

It still doesn’t cover everything I do, I would need to write a novel for that!  What isn’t covered here, is the amount of work that actually goes into running your own business.  I’m sure other small business owners will know exactly what I’m talking about.  The admin, book-keeping, marketing, social media updates and interactions,  business planning and growth development, business reviews, managing my own team and still trying to have a life and look after my family.  It’s not an easy task but I take to it like a swan.  Effortlessly gliding across the water, but frantically paddling underneath.  It helps that I also have a great team to support my business and the services I offer. My son thinks I make money by doing nothing!  If only!  

 

So when the Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce asked me to take part in their

‘In Your Shoes’ blog for a week, I jumped at the opportunity.  A week in the life of an HR Consultant.  With just over 100 words per day (nowhere near enough), you can see what I’m getting up to.  It’s live now!  Click here to read it.  

 

So my confession for this blog….

 

I love what I do.  Some projects are more enjoyable than others, but overall, I wouldn’t want to do anything else.  I love problem solving and I love working with other motivated and inspiring businesses.  I love seeing them improve as a result of my input.

 

Wednesday, 02 November 2016 09:11

Stress related absence

Today is National Stress Awareness day - 2nd November 2016 

 

Did you know…

  • That stress is the single largest reason for long-term absences in the UK?
  • Non-manual positions tend to have a higher rate of stress absence than manual positions?
  • Nearly a third of organisations reported an increase in stress related absences over the past year?

 

Stress at work and stress related absences are a growing concern for many employers across a range of sectors.  But what can we do to change this?  How can we reduce stress levels or at least, better support our employees who are suffering from high stress levels?

 

Well, lets look at the top 3 causes of stress:

  1. Workloads
  2. Family & personal issues
  3. Management style

 

  1. Workloads

It’s important not to over load staff with an endless list of tasks to get through in a day.  It’s also important not to give to little work.  You need to find the right balance of workload so employees are busy but able to manage.  Recent studies have shown that working long hours increases the likelihood of high stress levels and therefore lower productivity.  Whereas working 6 hours a day can improve productivity.

 

      2.  Family & personal issues

We all have personal issues outside of work which can be difficult to ‘leave at the door’.  Can you be flexible with working hours or allow holidays at short notice for staff going through personal difficulties?  Some companies offer private counselling services that staff can access at any time and for any reason.

 

      3.   Management style

It’s important to train your managers on both people skills and HR procedures.  Well trained managers will be able to support and motivate staff increasing productivity and job satisfaction.

 

If you can address the causes of stress, then you can reduce it consistently. 

 

The top 3 ways to manage long-term absences are occupational health involvement, return to work interviews and trigger points system to review absences.  Well trained managers will be able to identify when to use each of these tools and how to use them effectively.  Please click here to see our training calendar to find a suitable course for your managers to attend

 

SCRSolutions Ltd is offering a free stress risk assessment template and well-being policy for a limited time only. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or phone us on 01382 250333.  

 

 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 11:49

How to calculate holidays

 

With the summer holidays in full swing, we are being inundated with companies asking about holiday entitlement calculations and holiday pay calculations.  

The thing with holiday calculations is that they are not always straightforward.  The amount of holiday entitlement will depend on how many days or hours your employee works and if they are working shifts or variable hours.  Therefore, many employers may find themselves having to do different holiday entitlement calculations for each employee.  

On top of this, the holiday pay calculations should be based on ‘normal pay’.  But what exactly is ‘normal pay’?

There has been a lot of confusion about this recently.  With some court judgements to be considered and the recent decision to leave the EU, many employers are left feeling frustrated and uncertain of what should be included in holiday pay calculations.  A lot of this due to the EU working time regulations that the UK has adopted with regards to the first 20 days of annual holiday entitlement, pro-rata for part-time workers.  These are commonly known as the Euro holiday days with the remaining 8 statutory holiday days being under UK legislation.  A lot of the recent court judgements have been applied to the 20 Euro days only, making things even more complicated for employers and often with conflicting advice from various sources.  

Our advice is to keep things as simple as you can.  Take the average hourly rate paid to the employee over the past 12 weeks leading up to the holiday period.  The average should be taken from the total amount paid including:

  • All overtime payments

  • All commission payments

  • All work related travel payments

Where the employee has had a week unpaid during the past 12 weeks, a further week should be added to the calculation, i.e. 13 weeks average.

This is the rate of pay that should be used to calculate holiday pay entitlement for all employees.  To keep things simple, apply this rate to all 28 statutory holiday days.  But remember to do a new average calculation for every holiday period.  

Also, bear in mind that holiday entitlement still accrues during absences and maternity leave.  

The only time that holiday pay can be legally be paid in lieu is when the employment ends.  Also remember that holiday pay cannot be calculated as part of an hourly rate, known as rolled-up holiday pay.  It must be paid at the time when the holiday is taken.  

You should also have a holiday policy in place to give clear guidance on annual entitlements and calculations as well as giving guidance on how you would like holidays to be requested and any restrictions on when can be taken or length of holidays.  If you need help to create or update your holiday policy, why not let one of our HR expert do this for you?  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Also, during August, we are offering free holiday entitlement calculations for up to 5 employees per company.  Simply get in touch with details of your holiday entitlement request by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Tuesday, 31 May 2016 12:21

What should I do about a grievance?

What should I do about a grievance? 

 

We are often asked to advise clients on what to do about a grievance.  But first of all, you have to establish if the complaint is actually a grievance or not!  This may seem straight forward, but it can be a difficult issue. 

Firstly, an employee does not have to state that they wish to raise a grievance; they simply have to bring a complaint to their supervisor or manager.  This can be either verbal or written. 

Verbal Grievance

When a supervisor or manager becomes aware of an issue, they must take all reasonable steps to resolve it.  A verbal complaint is informal and so can be dealt with relatively quickly.  While there is no requirement for written documents, you should use your judgement on the seriousness of the issue and always make a written record.  The record could be something as simple as a note in your diary with the details of the issue and the outcome.  Or perhaps a written file note in an employee’s file.  This will be helpful if the situation continues or escalates. 

Written Grievance

This is a formal grievance raised by an employee in writing.  It can be by an email or letter.  It doesn’t have to state that it is a grievance and it doesn’t have to be signed or dated.  Any form of written complaint should be treated as a formal grievance. 

There is a statutory grievance procedure that you should follow, even if you are unsure if the employee intends the complaint to be a grievance or not.  You can access your free grievance procedure by clicking here – free grievance procedure. 

In short, you should meet with the employee and give them the opportunity to explain their issue in full and indicate what they feel would be a suitable resolution.  You should then decide what, if any, action is required.  It is possible to deny a grievance if you feel there is no action required.  However, if the complaint is substantial, you may need to take disciplinary action against the offender. 

You should always be mindful of any potential discrimination issues.  Grievances may not always be straight forward and may also cross over with disciplinaries or absences.  If you feel things are becoming complicated, it is vital that you get professional HR advice to avoid any tribunal claims which may arise. 

Our HR advisors are fully qualified and experienced in handling complex grievance issues and are here to help you manage your grievance safely. 

 

Contact us on 01382 250333. 

Monday, 18 April 2016 10:05

Pulling a sickie? (case law March 2016)

Pulling a sickie? (case law March 2016)

 

We all know it goes on and sometimes it’s all too obvious.  But what can employers do about it? 

Employees have the legal right to be absent from work due to sickness and to receive Statutory Sick Pay.  But if the sickness isn’t genuine, do these rights still apply?  In a recent case between Metroline West and Ajaj 2015, a dismissal for non-genuine absence was tested through the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). 

  

The case:

Mr Ajaj was employed by Metroline West as a bus driver.  He claimed to have had an accident at work in February 2014 where he slipped on a wet floor.  He was subsequently signed off by his GP due to the injury caused by the fall. 

 

Following a prolonged period of absence, his employers became suspicious about the alleged injuries and arrange for covert surveillance of Mr Ajaj while he attended an absence management meeting at work.  This was followed by further covert surveillance in April 2014 which showed him carrying out tasks which he claimed were beyond his physical capabilities. 

 

Mr Ajaj was disciplined and dismissed for his conduct in misrepresenting his ability to work. 

 

 

The Employment Tribunal:

Mr Ajaj made a claim of unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal and surprisingly won his case.

 

 

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT):

Metroline West made an appeal to the EAT.  The EAT concluded that Mr Ajaj’s actions had amounted to dishonesty which can be taken as a fundamental breach of contract due to it being the heart of the employer/employee relationship and therefore deemed the dismissal to be fair. 

 

 

Advice:

While you may suspect employees of pulling a sickie from time to time, you must be able to demonstrate that beyond reasonable doubt, the employee is making a dishonest representation of their condition and inability to work.  While covert surveillance may seem a bit extreme, you can use it in some circumstances.  Social media sites are also a good way to check up on absent employees but it’s important to have a social media policy in place too.  Medical advice may be obtained from the employees GP, with their written consent, or from an occupational health advisor.  As with any dismissal, it is vital to follow a full and fair investigation and dismissal process.  Use your company disciplinary policy and make sure it complies with current statutory guidance. 

 

 

How we can help:

Our dedicated team of HR professionals and employment law experts can quickly review your current policies and update them where required to give you sound peace of mind.  If you don’t have disciplinary and social media policies, we can easily create them to suit the needs of your business.  We can also assist with investigations, disciplinary hearings and tribunal representations.  Contact us on 01382 250333 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to see how we can help to protect you from future tribunal claims. 

 

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 10:55

Discrimination during recruitment

Discrimination during recruitment

 

Recruiting the right staff can be a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack.  You want to find that one person that ticks all the right boxes – skills, experience, personality, etc.  And so these are the things that most recruiters tend to focus on during the full recruitment process, and rightly so!

 

However, the legalities of recruitment are often overlooked or ignored completely.  More often than not, recruiters don’t consider the direct or indirect results of discrimination.  One reason may be that there are so many different forms of discrimination that recruiters just aren’t aware of.  These include the following protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Gender reassignment
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religious believes
  • Marital status/Civil partnership
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability

 

There are some key processes that can be put in place to help you avoid potential discrimination claims during the recruitment process.  It’s also important to bear in mind that someone does not have to be employed by you to raise a tribunal against you for discrimination during recruitment.  It may be a rejected candidate that has a claim. 

 

So here are our top tips for avoiding discrimination during recruitment:

  1. Don’t ask for any potentially discriminatory details on the application form;Stick to the information required to assess their suitability for the post based on experience, skills and qualifications.
  2. Don’t ask for any personal details during the interview; Please do not ask about any of the potential discrimination areas as listed above.  Don’t ask about family plans or children, partners, place of birth, travel arrangements, age or anything that may be related to the above list.
  3. Only check ID documents after you have made the offer of employment; There is massive potential for a discrimination claim if you ask to check personal documentation (birth certificate, passport, etc) before the offer of employment is made.  Legally, you have to check for the right to work in the UK and this should be done before the employment starts, but after the offer of employment has been made.
  4. If you require a medical questionnaire to be completed, ask for it after the offer of employment has been made; Most candidates will assess their own suitability to do the job that they have applied for.  If you have offered employment to a person who you later discover has a disability, you may need to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them.  You cannot base a recruitment decision based on a candidates medical condition, obesity is also a disability.
  5. Ask consistent questions during the interview; Have a list of main questions prepared that relate only to the post and the candidates ability to carry out the role based on experience, skills, qualifications, etc.  This will help you to have the same structure for each person you interview and reduce the potential for a discrimination claim.
  6. Use an interview scoring system to help assess candidates suitability; By applying a score of 1 to 5 for each answer given by the candidates, you will have a clear record to show who the best candidate is.  Avoid personal scores or comments about appearance or characteristics. 

 

The average award given to discrimination tribunal claimants during 2014-2015 was just under £7,500 with the highest awards being issued for sex discrimination.  Bear in mind that on top of the discrimination award, employers may also be fined for injury to feelings, loss of earnings and tribunal fees.  This all adds up to a very expensive recruitment error. 

 

In the recent case of Lucia Pagliarone v Immuno Biotech, Ms Pagliarone was awarded £10,500 for sexism discrimination during her recruitment.  Click here to read the full case. 

 

Recruitment processes don’t just apply to external candidates.  You must also consider the process for internal recruitment to avoid claims such asRonnie Lungu v Wiltshire Police.  You can click here to read the details of this internal discrimination during recruitment case. 

 

So, the questions is…. Are your recruitment processes keeping you safe from discrimination tribunal claims?   If you’re not sure, give us a call on 01382 250333 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Our qualified HR consultants will review your current recruitment processes to ensure you stay safe from expensive tribunals.  

 

Monday, 14 March 2016 15:57

You can't do that!

You can't do that!

 

If only I had a pound for every time someone has said "you can't do that" to me, I would be a very rich woman today!  

 

It's common that when staff think they can get away with things, they may be a little bit upset when you start to lay down the law.  This is even more common when you have policies and processes in place that just aren't being following by some department managers.  

 

So how can you change that?  Easily!  

 

First of all, send the offending managers on refresher training to remind them of HR policies, why the exist and how to apply them.  Then, simply remind all staff that there are policies in place that need to be applied consistently throughout the company.  You can re-issue key policies or post a summary of them on the notice board with reference on where to access the full policy.  Give it a couple of weeks to make sure that everyone has had enough time to review the policies ask any questions.  Then start following the processes.  

 

For example, if you want to crack down on multiple short-term absences, follow the process above then start having return to work meetings and stage 1 absence meetings with staff as required.  When you tell them that you will be making a record of the meeting that will be kept on file and any further absences may lead to disciplinary action, you may well hear them say "you can't do that".  This is when you politely remind them that you can in fact to that and you will if need be.  Refer them to the policy for review and offer to answer any queries regarding the policy that they may have.  

 

Remember, you have the right to manage your staff and it is important that all department managers follow the same processes and apply them consistently.  

 

Monday, 08 February 2016 12:43

How can you improve performance at work?

How can you improve performance at work?

 

While I was watching TV last week, a programme about performance and productivity at work caught my attention.  Maybe you saw it too?  Tonight – Shirkers or Workers.

Basically, they sent a performance expert in to a business and he showed them how they could improve productivity and performance at work while cutting working hours at the same time.  Impossible?  No, very possible. 

In fact, SCRSolutions has also helped companies to improve their performance using some of the same techniques that were demonstrated on the programme.  And the results can be doubled if you tackle absence management at the same time. 

The fact is, employees are normally your largest cost and your largest asset.  Now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure you get the best from your staff in terms of productivity and performance.  

To show you how to do this, I’m holding a free seminar in partnership with 'Dundee Business Week 2016' on Friday 26th February. 

 

So the only question is.. do you want to save money and boost productivity in your business?  Yes?  Then this seminar will show you how to do it. Click here for more details and to book your place. 

 

During the seminar I will show you how you can improve performance at work immediately by taking some simple steps and how to manage long-term performance.  We will look at the key areas of HR that your business needs to make sure your staff are motivated and engaged at work and we will give you practical top HR tips to help you manage your staff effectively and get the best from them in return.

 

Places are very limited so please click here to register as soon as possible.

 

Event details:

How to improve performance at work

Friday 26th February 2016

12.00pm – 2.00pm - lunch is provided

Business Gateway

27-28 Camperdown Street

City Quay Business Centre

Dundee

DD1 3JA

Free to attend – places are limited - click here to register

 

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