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People Matter February 2016

Sending out the right smoke signal

The 9th March is No Smoking Day – organised by the British Heart Foundation to reduce tobacco related illness and death. They tell us that 10 million people in the UK still smoke, with about 100,000 smoking related deaths occurring annually. Some big numbers: but what relevance do they have to your business?

First, legal requirements. Smoking in enclosed workplaces is illegal. It’s also illegal in all work vehicles that more than one person could use. Businesses must display ‘no smoking’ signs in all workplaces and vehicles, and prevent smoking in these restricted areas. Fines of up to £2,500 could be payable by the company and up to £200 for workers!

In addition to these obligations, it’s good practice to have a smoking policy. Clearly specifying locations where (and when) employees can smoke will be helpful in controlling smokers’ behaviour, and aid you with disciplinary grounds should they be required. A more recent trend is that of e-cigarettes (which are not currently banned by law from being smoked in UK workplaces). If you have an older smoking policy in place, be aware that it may need to be updated to reflect where your business does and doesn’t want to see vaping. The HR Dept can help you with drafting new or existing smoking policies that draw a line under smoking at work and spell out the disciplinary process that will follow for rule-breakers. Also, what about joining in with the spirit of No Smoking Day? You could provide some resources to help your smokers quit (try the No Smoking Day official website). After all, a healthier workforce is invariably good for business. And hey, for those who are successful, the money they save could be the equivalent of a decent pay rise.

Tidy desktop, tidy mind

It’s nearly time for the annual ‘spring clean’ but this time round let’s consider our digital space. Do you have spreadsheets gathering cobwebs on your hard-drive? Are your Microsoft Windows in more need of a clean than the windows of your premises? Maybe your computer desktop is cluttered beyond belief with files? One way to dust your digital space down is to switch your HR files to our neat and tidy HR Toolkit. This clean software-system intuitively sorts out much of your HR admin, freeing you up to deal with other things. Call us for a free demo.

Time for a cuppa

With the UK’s aging population, dementia is a huge challenge facing all of us. About 850,000 people are currently living with the condition, and the predictions are that this number will only go up. It’s thought that one day as many as one in three people over 65 may be afflicted.

With such a large scale problem, the more ways in which we can all pitch in, the better. And one charity event coming up is ‘Time for a Cuppa’ run by Dementia UK. It’s on between 1st and 8th of March and is an opportunity for friends, family or colleagues to spare enough time to enjoy a cup of tea together, a slice of cake and a good old chinwag – sponsored, of course. The money raised will go towards funding Admiral Nurses, who provide one-to-one support to dementia sufferers and their families at home.

Of course, with dementia it is not just the people with the condition that are affected. It puts an enormous burden on close family and friends who will suffer emotional trauma and might have to devote significant time to care for their loved ones. The stress of caring for them understandably may have an impact on their professional duties, they may have to shoot off from work to deal with a crisis, or suffer health problems themselves – such as depression. Carers can make a request for flexible working to deal with this.

If it hasn’t already impacted upon your company, the numbers suggest it will at some point. So getting behind causes such as ‘Time for a cuppa’ is a really positive way in which to help build an infrastructure of support. You can find more information, including loads of downloadable promotional and administration material, at the Dementia UK website.

Dementia is not exclusively a disease of old age. One other consideration is that some employers will be faced with the complex and sad situation of actually having to manage an employee who develops dementia. For advice and assistance in handling such scenarios in a sympathetic and compliant way, please get in touch with The HR Dept.

Snog Marry Avoid

The statistics will tell you that office romances are inevitable. It’s reported that one in five people marries a co-worker. That half of workers admit to having snogged a colleague at the Christmas Party. And of course ‘avoiding’ is one of things that may happen if it all goes wrong!

So, inspired by Valentine’s Day, and as it’s a leap year (watch out for proposals!) we take a look at some approaches to managing love in the workplace.

A standard strategy is to accept that it happens and try to control it with a policy that outlines a code of conduct. No inappropriate physical contact, no adverse effect on equality– that sort of thing.

Taking it up a notch, you could use ‘Love contracts’ – a US phenomenon that recognises individual relationships in writing, bringing them into the open and protecting the company against harassment claims.

How about something really left-field? Canadian firm Freshbooks actively encourages ‘Blind dates‘ among its 250 strong workforce as a strategy to retain their culture of fun and innovation! For advice and/or a written policy call The HR Dept.

A hefty price tag

Whether you’re in an exciting growth phase or replacing a team member who has moved on, recruitment can be an expensive business. One report, by Oxford Economics, found the price tag for replacing an employee to be £30k: £5k in ‘transactional costs’ and the remaining £25K as the cost of lost productivity while a new employee gets up to speed. Eye-watering! And that doesn’t take into account the hassle and stress of the whole process either. Clearly the more quickly and efficiently you hire, the bigger the savings of time, money and energy. That’s why you should consider looking to The HR Dept to help with some or all of your hiring process. We can do everything from writing job descriptions to conducting face-to-face interviews. Get in touch today to tailor a package to your needs.

Xin Nian Hao!

What do Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci and Miley Cyrus have in common? Stop it! They are not all famous twerkers! They are all monkeys, or at least share the year of the monkey as their Chinese Zodiac sign. And February sees the start of that very year in the Chinese calendar. With London having the largest Chinese community outside of Asia, and other communities spread throughout the UK, there will have been plenty of celebrations. Times like these are a good opportunity to highlight the benefits of accommodating the customs of minorities in your workforce. This can help to cultivate good employee relations and motivate staff. So why not learn this traditional New Year greeting ‘Xin Nian Hao’? And if you would like advice and support in maintaining an inclusive workplace, get in touch.

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