The Pulse – October 2023

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The Pulse HR Newsletter header image showing an heartbeat monitor design with a heart shape in the middle of the line.
Are non-parents picking up the slack in your business?
An office worker is waving to his colleagues at the far end of the office.

Today we’re going to talk about a topic that’s been buzzing around offices for years… finding equilibrium between employees with children and those without.

Recently, a study revealed that employees without children often feel like they’re left holding the fort while their parent colleagues dash out for school pickups, doctor’s appointments, or to watch their little cherubs run the egg and spoon race.

And this creates an atmosphere that can make your non-parent employees feel undervalued or resentful.

We all know the importance of making reasonable adjustments for employees who have children.

It’s only fair to understand their needs and flexibly accommodate them. But have you ever thought about how this impacts your childless employees? They might be feeling a tad neglected or even over-burdened.

And guess what? It turns out this imbalance can lead to a drop in motivation and job satisfaction.

Yikes!

So, how can we bridge this gap and create a work environment that supports everyone, kids or no kids? Here are a few tips to spread that love and understanding:

1. Flex the flex: Flexibility isn’t just for parents. Extending flexible work hours, remote working possibilities, or compressed work weeks could be a godsend for all.

2. Communication is key: Encourage open and honest conversations between employees about their needs and challenges. Parents can let their colleagues without kids know what they can do to help when they have family commitments, and likewise, non-parents should share their needs and struggles too.

3. Share the load: Encourage teamwork and collaboration. Create a culture that values cooperation and collective effort. Avoid any tendencies for playing favourites and ensure that everyone has equal opportunities to grow, contribute, and shine in their roles.

Here’s a little food for thought: an inclusive work environment that respects everyone’s personal situations, be it parenthood or not, will not only increase job satisfaction and motivation, but it will also fuel a harmonious and productive workplace.

Is bullying and harassment contributing to imposter syndrome?
An office worker is being mocked by three of his colleagues.

A recent survey found that 47% of employees have witnessed bullying and harassment in the workplace, and 10% have been on the receiving end.

But the study also found that this treatment leads to both physical and psychological damage, like headaches, anxiety, and depression. But another outcome can be imposter syndrome, where a person doesn’t believe they’re competent in their role.

70% of people have felt this at some stage, and bullying is leading to victims doubting their abilities.

Managers benefit from more flexibility at work

We like to think we treat everyone equally, but research shows that managers are likely to receive more flexibility at work than non-managers. Only 13% of non-managers benefit from flexible working, as compared to 25% at directorate level.

And it comes as no surprise that flexibility is listed as the number one benefit valued by all employees.

Is your business guilty of this?

59% of employers face forcing out or being unable to hire women if they don’t change outdated practices, according to research. The main reason? Attitudes towards flexibility.

Parting ways with problematic employees
Out of seven small wooden figures, one is painted red whilst a hand above gives a 'thumbs down'.

Managing a team can sometimes feel like herding cats, can’t it? And occasionally, you come across an employee who is just not purring on the same wavelength.

While it’s important to foster a positive work environment, dealing with low performers or team players who aren’t, well, playing, can be a challenge.

But it’s equally important to take action when someone isn’t pulling their weight, not only for the good of the business, but to show other employees you’re aware of the situation and want to make things right for everyone’s sake. So how do you do that?

Assess the situation: Before marching in with pitchforks and torches, take a moment to evaluate the situation. Is it a performance issue or a behavioural concern? Identifying the root cause will help you decide the appropriate course of action.

Open sesame: Now that you’ve determined the issue, it’s time to initiate open communication. Arrange a friendly chat with the employee, providing constructive feedback regarding your concerns. Give them the opportunity to reflect on their performance and discuss any reasoning behind their behaviour.

The path of improvement: In a perfect world, this chat should jolt your employee into realising they need to up their game. Create a plan together, setting clear expectations, highlighting areas of improvement, and establishing measurable goals. Don’t expect miracles overnight and hold regular check-ins.

Document: Not seeing any progress despite your best efforts? If the employee continues to underperform or display problematic behaviour, it’s crucial to document it all. Keep detailed records of specific incidents, discussions held, and any steps taken towards improvement.

The powers of procedure: UK employment law requires you to follow certain procedures to terminate an employee while avoiding the wrath of legal consequences. Consult your HR department or seek legal advice to ensure you’re on the right track. We can help with this.

The great farewell: If all previous interventions have failed to yield a positive outcome, ensure you follow the proper steps outlined in employment law, including providing written notice, adhering to contractual obligations, and offering an opportunity for appeal.

Dealing with problem employees is like navigating a maze. But by mastering the art of open communication, keeping records, and following proper procedures, you can manage these difficult situations with confidence. If we can help you with all of that, get in touch.

Q&A

Do my staff still accrue holiday when on long term sick?
Yes. And up to 4 weeks’ holiday entitlement can be carried over if an employee is too unwell to use it within the current year.

Do I have to pay someone for a trial day if they’re not successful?
Yes. Government guidelines state that employers should pay at least National Minimum Wage for any trial shifts that are undertaken.

Can I specify I need a “strong male” in my job advert if the job requires physical labour?
No. Unless there is a genuine occupational requirement, such as in the cases of care workers for example, you can’t specify preference of any protected characteristic.

See you next month!

We hope you found the newsletter informative, look out or the next one in November. If you’d like to download a copy for your managers click here.

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