Find your local office


Back to listing

People Matter May 2016

Clock watching

2 June is Leave Work Early Day. It does what it says on the tin. Is it a load of nonsense or is there some shrewd point behind it? It was devised by Laura Stack, aka The Productivity Pro®, who has worked with some of the top global brands from Microsoft to Toyota. She launched it back in 2004 to promote a better work-life balance for Americans, who worked 49 hour weeks on average.

While UK workers’ noses are at the grindstone for ten hours less per week on average, there will still be many who’re always going the extra mile, burning the midnight oil or any other cliché you would care to choose. If you can, why not recognise their hard work by allowing them to slip away early on 2 June? It’s the kind of gesture that will really mean a lot.

And looking at the bigger picture, perhaps the day can be used for management to reflect on the kind of culture that exists in the office. If staff are constantly staying late, is their workload too much or is it the dreaded presenteeism? Overworked staff may eventually suffer from health problems, and are unlikely to be at their best at seven o’ clock at night. Or they could call time themselves, and move on to a job elsewhere where they could get a better balance.

And if you feel none of your staff deserve that bit of time off, perhaps you have problems the other way! Whatever the prevailing culture, don’t forget that The HR Dept is always on hand to provide advice and policies to ensure you get the most from your workforce.

Despicable Me-ternity

Meghann Foye just broke the Internet. In a ‘New York Post’ article, the magazine editor proclaimed she “wanted all the perks of Maternity Leave – without having any kids”. She was talking about a sabbatical but coined it Meternity Leave to reflect the time that other women were having away from their careers.

The suggestion that Maternity Leave is “a break” brought much e-scorn to Ms Foye, as it was pointed out that lack of sleep, diapers (she’s American!), and screaming hardly equate to a relaxing time. But, aside from the unfortunate analogy to Maternity Leave, she may be on to something. Sabbaticals are becoming more popular as companies realise the benefits that a decent break can have for long term members of staff when they return fresh in body and mind.

For ideas on implementing them, get in touch.

Bill receives Royal Assent

The Trade Union Bill is now an Act after receiving Royal Assent. In the future, valid ballots on industrial action will require a 50% minimum turnout. In important public services, support of 40% of total eligible membership will be necessary for actions to be legal.

There will be a six-month window for action to be taken (extendable to nine months by agreement with employers). In addition, trade disputes and industrial action must be described clearly on ballot papers, and new members given an active choice regarding paying into political coffers.

A provision is included that the public do not fund the administration of payroll deductions for member subscriptions.

Green offices

It’s good to be green, but it’s not always a top priority for SMEs running with limited resources. There are still though plenty of day-to-day green actions that UK businesses can take to give Mother Nature a helping hand.  Here are some of our favourites:

Cycle to work – As part of the government’s Green Transport Plan, this allows employers to loan bikes and cycling equipment to their staff as a tax-free benefit. It can be offered as part of a flex benefits package. This is a great way to incentivise employees, giving them the freedom to choose the benefits they find most attractive. Cycling is good for the environment, promotes a healthy lifestyle and is a handy way to beat traffic jams.

Green fingers – This next one is great for helping with a healthy mind. Get some foliage in the workplace: from a few office plants to a full blown garden. Studies show the benefits can be remarkable! At one end of the scale we have a law firm who laid a rooftop garden in which staff could escape the stresses of the office, and which also accommodated hives for 80,000 bees! At the other end of the scale it’s suggested that even adding a few plants to the office can reduce coughs and colds by 30% (plants can remove nine tenths of toxins from the air). Why not encourage staff to take care of the plants to promote mindfulness – a useful item in the well-being toolkit?

‘Switch off’ campaigns ­– Many of us make sure we switch lights off in unoccupied rooms at home, boil no more water in the kettle than is needed and so on. But how many take the same attitudes into work? Introduce green policies to cover the above behaviours and you will save on energy bills, reduce your carbon footprint and make your staff feel good about doing it.

It increasingly pays to be green: not just for the environment but in attracting top quality staff and cutting energy costs. For more tips and policies call The HR Dept.

What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?

We don’t really want to know, but a recruiter at Trader Joe’s, an American grocery chain, did! It’s just one example of oddball questions that some choose to pitch in job interviews. There’s a whole host of motives behind such questions, including to draw out an applicant’s creative side, demonstrate their problem-solving skills, or check they can communicate clearly. Managers at Google used to be famed for asking such brain teasers until the company eventually banned the tactic!

Here are some of Google’s humdingers. Can you answer them?

  • Explain the significance of “dead beef”.
  • Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco.
  • How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?
  • How many golf balls can you fit in a school bus?
  • If you wanted to bring your dog to work but one of your team members was allergic to dogs, what would you do?
  • Name a prank you would pull on x manager if you were hired.
  • Estimate the number of tennis balls that can fit into a plane.

Want to know the answers? Well, Google them! And for help devising a recruitment strategy, call The HR Dept.

Super Grans

Grandparental Leave is currently out to consultation and could be rolled out in 2018. The details are due to be announced soon and you can rest assured that we will keep you informed.

Given the underwhelming take up of Shared Parental Leave (one survey put it at just 2% of businesses seeing significant take up) it will be interesting to see exactly what is proposed. But one major company simply can’t wait, and has introduced its own Grandparental Leave scheme.

Santander, which employs 20,000 people in the UK, is offering 16 weeks’ leave on full pay after the birth of a child that can be split between mothers, fathers and grandparents. One limiting factor for now is that it only applies to family members who all work at Santander, but other firms are expected to sign up giving the scheme a wider reach.

For help devising your own leave policies talk to The HR Dept.

Comments are closed.