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People Matter April 2017

New terror guidelines announced

Westminster recently announced new guidelines that include how employers should prepare for, recognise and respond to a terrorist attack. They were published two days before the shocking events of the Westminster terror attack, which serves as a stark reminder of why we must all be prepared for the worst. Let’s take a look at what is included.

The new guidelines are comprehensive, covering a range of threats through 14 different sections. These include:

  • Weapons and firearms attacks where details of the “Run, hide and tell” tactics are provided.
  • How to deal with suspicious items, the threat of attack through incoming mail and bomb threats. For suspicious items, the four C’s are recommended – Confirm (it’s suspicious), Clear (the immediate area), Communicate (call 999) and Control (access to the cordoned area).
  • The danger of suicide bombers, vehicle bombs and other vehicle-based attacks. Notably, the National Police Chief Council has approved wider use of roof markings on HGVs to assist airborne police units when tracking stolen lorries.
  • Chemical, biological and radioactive threats.
  • How to protect against insider threats and cyber-attacks.
  • The guide, available on the government website, is intended for use by the public as well as organisations. For employers, considering and acting upon the advice could form an essential part of their duty of care towards employees.

    Often an HR department will be one of the key parts of an organisation responsible for delivering recommendations. If you would like help implementing anti-terrorism measures, particularly if you are in a sensitive industry, for instance a haulier, then get in touch with your local HR Dept. 

    Science of seating plans

    How much thought do you put into where employees sit? If the answer is not much, then you could be missing a trick. Mixing things up can have a dramatic effect on productivity. Flexi-desks, also known as hot desks, are one way to ensure that people do not get too cosy in established spots.

    However, if you want to get more scientific, research from Cornerstone On Demand – a US-based consultancy – will be of interest. They categorised workers into three camps:

    1. High productivity, low quality
    2. Average productivity, average quality
    3. Low productivity, high quality

    They found that if you sit 1’s and 3’s together it helps them bring out the best in each other – improving quality in 1’s and productivity in 3’s. The same benefit was not seen in 2’s, so they are best seated together. They found that adopting this method could lead to a significant 15% boost in organisational performance. Worth investigating!

    What’s causing the absence?

    It’s essential for a well-run organisation to manage absence effectively, and often helpful for employees’ well-being too. However, the cause of absence may not always be down to the employee. When examining absence data, it’s helpful to look for patterns beyond the behaviour of individuals. For example, do people from one team display more absence than average? That could point to a bad line manager, causing absence through poor management technique. Where this, or other factors, might be the underlying cause, the quicker it’s identified the better. We run training courses on managing absence. Get in touch for more information.

    Making HR  a walk in the park

    We all know what a challenge HR can be at times, especially dealing with a disciplinary or managing performance. So here is a top tip to help with the lighter side of HR.

    May is National Walking Month, when charities, employers and other organisations will be encouraging people to get out for anything from a light stroll to making some serious strides.

    With many roles in the modern workplace leading to workers being sedentary for most of the day, getting people to walk more is a sure-fire way to increase productivity and job satisfaction.

    There are numerous health benefits to walking, which can boost the mind as well as body. These include:

    • Releasing endorphins to boost your mood and act as a natural energiser.
    • Helping you lose weight and tone up muscles in your lower body. A half-hour walk can burn between 75-150 calories, which soon adds up if you make it habitual.
    • It reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and other serious conditions. For instance, the risk of stroke can be reduced by 27% with a daily half-hour walk, whilst the chances of getting type 2 diabetes are said to be cut by 60%.
    • It’s even said that dementia can be warded off by walking at least six miles a week.

    That’s a big thumbs up for walking and clearly will benefit employers as well as individuals. So what could you bring in to promote it?

    Some companies implement challenges to get staff walking: taking the stairs instead of the lift or setting competitions to see which teams can walk the furthest (technology can help here, with the rise of Fitbits and other pedometer devices).

    Another idea is to team up with a charity. The British Heart Foundation, for instance, has a fundraising initiative called Just Walk which includes a free fund raising kit.

    Encouraging walking is a great proactive HR policy that contributes to employee well-being, team spirit, and even a bit of positive PR through association with a charity. For help with your first steps contact The HR Dept.

    Sickness absence falling

    Sickness absence has fallen considerably since records began. Back then, in 1993, the average worker took 7.2 days of sick leave annually. In 2016, the figure was just 4.3 days. After the 90s, the figure fell steadily with a marked decrease after the 2008 financial crisis. However, workers aged 65 and over bucked the trend in the latest figures, and in 2016 posted a higher absence rate (2.9%) than in 1993 (2.7%).

    So this data presents an opportunity for businesses to support them with targeted occupational health support which will also help control absence levels. These could include devising return to work programmes, making reasonable adjustments and identifying workplace issues that may contribute to absence.

    The statistics suggest this will be a growing issue, so if you need support call The HR Dept.

    Ties out, slippers in?

    Relaxed dress codes are now common in some sectors. Will the latest fad from Sweden catch on? That is, taking your shoes off at the workplace door and donning slippers. The idea being that comfortable staff equals productive staff.

    Your dress code will be influenced by many factors, including the industry you’re in, the day-to-day activities of staff and the image you want to portray.

    Perhaps a financial services firm may want to retain a strict code to demonstrate professionalism, trust and accountability, while a digital agency may go relaxed to show creativity.

    Even if your dress code is smart, bear in mind the seasons. With summer coming, many companies relax dress codes so things don’t get too uncomfortable in hot weather.  

    Whatever you do, get it down in a proper policy and apply the rules consistently.

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