Tuesday, 19 July 2016

As the summer holidays start, is your leave planner up to scratch?

leave planner, staff holiday planner
As the little ones break up and staff with families are set to head for warmer climates, there's a lot of tension in the air.   Employers have probably noticed their staff eyeing currency movements with anxious eyes, keen to get the best deal as the pound bounces up and down in line with the latest dire post-brexit predictions.

You could be forgiven for thinking that fears about business performance and the need to make a profit have been replaced by bigger fears about economic concerns as the UK sits in a post-brexit shock.

That said, despite the extra concerns, the usual staff leave planning issues still exist for both businesses and staff.

Your staff will also still need to plan their holiday spending, make sure they have passports and visas, and make sure they pack enough sunscreen -a lesson one of our staff members learned the hard way earlier this year!  The world may be more uncertain, but the basics haven't changed.

It's the same for businesses - the issues that were affecting UK businesses before the brexit decision and recent terror attacks have not gone anywhere and UK businesses still need to tackle them, if anything the new period of economic uncertainty makes tackling them even more critical.

Having an adequate leave planner is still a massive issue for the UK, with even huge businesses relying on spreadsheets, wall planners and paper forms to manage annual leave.

This inevitably leads to staff holiday clashes, frustration, syintetressed co-workers and often a big agency bill to cover the leave.

The HR Manager overseeing the process often finds themselves asked to make judgement calls on who can take annual leave, when, often with the wisdom of solomon.  They can find themselves constantly interrupted with annual leave queries and berated by angry staff if they feel a decision is unfair.

It doesn't have to be like that.  Simply changing the staff holiday management process to one using the latest online technology saves businesses time and money, and staff are often enthusiastic about the technology because they can request leave anywhere, even at weekends, on their smartphones.

One leading provider, Activ Absence, also uses the same technology to manage sick leave, enabling managers to plan staff holiday, tackle absenteeism and improve staff engagement all at the same time with one handy online application.

Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director explained how it works:

“With our online system, staff see their own leave entitlement and can request leave in 2 clicks from any device, even a smartphone, and their line manager, who can see who else is off at that time in the email, approves or rejects an annual leave request in one click. Staff love it, and it's visibly fair.

"We use the same module to manage sickness absence, with a return to work process built in, and users have the option to add on an appraisals and training system, automated staff handbook and document management system.   Staff love how easy it is to use and managers enjoy the simplicity.

"Finance managers, on the other hand, are mostly impressed with the cost savings against a manual system, which are an unexpected side-benefit for most businesses."

Users of the system include one of the UK's largest travel businesses, creative teams, recruitment agencies, NHS teams, charities, schools, local councils, engineering companies and financial institutions.  Users seem full of praise:

“Activ Absence has transformed the way we manage holiday & sickness absence.  It has freed up my time dramatically and is a very welcome addition to our company."
Heather Turner, HR Manager, William Turner & Son

Lewis says the system will work for any organisation:
"We recommend the system for organisations with 40-4000 staff, although in practice we have organisations ranging from 3-5000 staff using the system, in over 30 countries worldwide, with different leave allowances calculated for each country."
In a post-brexit climate, fraught with economic concerns, whilst we are far from business as usual, Europe or not, there is never a bad time to look at improving business processes.

Staff holiday planning sounds a good place to start - why not start here?

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

How to conduct successful performance reviews

Guest blog by Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director of Activ Appraisals

Whether you use appraisals software or not, delivering an appraisal of someone’s performance is an opportunity to engage people, motivate them and set their goals and objectives in line with the priorities of your business.

It is therefore vital that managers view performance appraisals as more than just a paper chasing exercise.  Appraisals software can help provide a framework for the process, but enthusiasm, energy and drive from the line manager is the most important part in delivering a successful appraisal.
However, having a consistent process will at least ensure conformity and fairness.  Our appraisals software simply automates the process, but it doesn’t have to be automated to give best results – here’s our tips to help deliver appraisals that work:

Obtain Feedback from your employee ahead of the meeting

It is possible to take feedback from an employee during the appraisal meeting with a simple ‘how do you think you are doing?’.  However, this does not give managers the opportunity to plan their response to any issues raised and the staff member concerned may feel a little awkward bringing any issues up.

We recommend using employee questionnaires – whilst Activ Appraisals software allows you to create any number of different questionnaires to suit different job roles, and automatically forwards it to the employee ahead of a review meeting, there is nothing (apart from the admin of course!) to stop you managers doing this manually.  You can then use the meeting itself to discuss any points arising from employee feedback at the beginning of the meeting.

It is important as part of this process to agree the goals your employee would like to achieve.

New Quick Video Presentation for Activ Absence

Neil Taylor: There will be sickies for Wales this Wednesday

We've been saying for years at Activ Absence that key sporting events create a rise in sickness absence - but this week we have an unusual ally.

As Wales prepare to bring the game to Portugal on Wednesday, welsh defender Neil Taylor suggested that the nation should ‘declare a bank holiday’ this Wednesday:

 “Perhaps they could do it for the Portugal game or there will be awful lot of people taken sick that day.”

Now, as it's not even the final of EURO16, it was never going to happen and Wales will be in work on Wednesday.  Fortunately kick off is at 8pm, so we won't be missing the game - thank goodness.

Our absence management expert Adrian Lewis did however agree with Taylor that the Wales game could lead to sickies, though he expects Thursday to be more affected than Wednesday.

Adrian said:

“When a game kicks-off at 8pm, that day should be fine.
"However, I’d worry about Thursday, when the hangovers kick in – and that's dangerous, one day before the weekend people are more likely to take a two day sickie, especially if Wales win.
“Employers should therefore get a good team spirit going in the office ahead of the game, to make it a fun place with an atmosphere that makes people want to come in and celebrate with their colleagues!"

On being asked what happens if Wales lose, Adrian dismissed the possibility:

“I’m proud to be welsh and 100% behind the team so I'm not considering the prospects of them losing - I'm already thinking about the final!"
Win or lose, Thursday should be a day when welsh businesses let their staff celebrate how far Wales have got this year in work, perhaps with a more relaxed demeanor than normal.

Here in our Bridgend-based office, even the die-hard rugby fans are suddenly embracing football enthusiastically.  We're all looking forward to a welsh match, and like the rest of the Nation are pinning our hopes on a welsh win.  Adrian summed up the mood:

“After all the divisions and unpleasantness arising from the EU referendum, sport has reunited Wales and lifted our mood.  I sincerely hope that the dream continues past Wednesday and that our National team bring home the EURO16 cup.”