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Mental Well-Being In The Workplace

The recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign has really brought mental illness to the forefront of current affairs. So, we thought now was a great time to look into mental health issues in the workplace. The mental health charity Mind states that 1 in 6 workers are currently dealing with a mental health problem – which is actually a staggering statistic. Take a moment to work out how many that is in your office – in ours that equates to 6 people, more than the whole marketing department!

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The recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign has really brought mental illness to the forefront of current affairs. So, we thought now was a great time to look into mental health issues in the workplace.

The mental health charity Mind states that 1 in 6 workers are currently dealing with a mental health problem – which is actually a staggering statistic. Take a moment to work out how many that is in your office – in ours that equates to 6 people, more than the whole marketing department!

Here’s a few ways to promote good mental health in your workplace…

Peer Support

Having a ‘buddy scheme’ is a great way to make sure no staff member feels they have nowhere to turn. By providing a peer outside the management structure that a person can go to with any concerns, worries or issues you can really help reduce feelings of helplessness.

Clear Expectations

Make sure all team members are clear on what is expected of them , and how they can achieve it. A major cause of anxiety and stress is feeling that demands are too high. If expectations are achievable and staff are given all the support needed to achieve them, you should be well on your way to a happy workforce.

Encourage a  Good Work/ Life Balance

We’re not saying it should be flexi time and unlimited breaks for everyone – some things are just not practical! However, a little flexibility is always helpful, and organised social activities can really help your team to bond, as well as show to them that you’re not all work and no play!

For a host of information and resources, check out Mind, the mental health charity’s website here.

Anonymous CVs – Where does your organisation stand?

group of professionalsThe government has proposed a new initiative that aims to make it a lot easier for job hunters to get a job without fear of discrimination during the application stage. The new strategy has been designed so that companies in the future will ask for anonymous CVs that omit information, including the candidates’ names and where they went to school.

The idea behind the recruitment initiative is to give candidates a fair chance of getting an interview and to help eradicate the idea that you can get a job because of who you know or what top school you attended, rather than what you know and your capabilities.

Already, around 100 of the UK’s largest businesses have joined the initiative to help change the culture that currently exists when recruiting for new posts. Under the government’s Business Compact scheme, major firms including Tesco, Coco-Cola and Barclays have come on board and agreed to use new application forms which will not include information such as school, name, gender and ethnicity.

By agreeing to the scheme, companies will use an application form with blanks for name and school, as these questions are believed to often lead to discrimination when selecting candidates for interview. It is thought that companies may unintentionally discriminate against names that sound foreign. The type of school attended favours the old boy network that still exists.
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Are performance reviews still relevant in 2012?

If you want to know how productive and effective your staff are, how they feel about their careers and what level of job satisfaction they have, then the tried-and-tested method is to conduct a performance review. Traditional thinking in the world of HR considers a regular performance review (at least once a year) the litmus test for all the above questions. But aren’t there drawbacks to performance reviews, limitations that render them much less effective in today’s working world? Working lives, management styles, etiquette, employment law and the reciprocal relationship between employer and employee have all changed in the last few decades. So where does that leave the performance review as a useful diagnostic tool?

Naturally, any employer has a right to know if their staff are performing well and in turn, employees have a right to career development and a level of satisfaction in their work. Many employers and employees dislike the performance-review process. They think it is confrontational and an exercise in making staff fearful about job security. They can feel like an unappreciated cog in a machine and employers are left open to grudges and negativity from staff.

Performance reviews which use forced ranking are particularly fraught with difficulties, especially as it pushes many aspects of employment and employees into constrained boxes. Furthermore, it only allows a certain percentage of employees into each category, whether that is ‘needs improvement’ or ‘exceeds expectations’. In the real world, it is rarely the case that forced ranking will provide an accurate reflection of reality. Worse, it is seen to create distrust among colleagues or encourage favouritism and it can demoralise a whole team. This is hardly the outcome anyone conducting a performance review would hope to achieve.

Other employers see performance reviews simply as a form-filling exercise or a chore to be endured once a year but never referred to again until the next year. Small wonder then that some employees do not feel they are useful or an accurate reflection of their work or their career prospects. If both sides are distrustful of the efficacy of the process, then in all likelihood a company will lose good but frustrated employees and retain underperforming ones who are only interested in treading water. It creates an atmosphere where people are more interested in personal job security, not the collective performance of the team or company as a whole.

Perhaps performance reviews, rather than being about ticking boxes and assigning people to categories or giving them a ranking, should be about feedback and creating a constructive plan for the year ahead, something for company and employee alike to work on. Measuring specific job-related tangibles, if possible in a particular work environment, is an obvious way to see improvement and is more precise than deciding whether or not an individual meets or exceeds expectations based on an arbitrary ranking system.

Forms with set questions on them will never apply to all roles or all individuals and the premise that no one can ever get full marks in a scoring mechanism because ‘there would be nothing left to aim for’ is outdated. If an employee is doing an outstanding job, then they should be recognised for it, not perpetually being seen to be ‘under achieving’ just because no one ever gets top marks. This is demoralising and the employee is left wondering whether they have done a good job or not. Rather than a yearly review, in the run up to which employees get nervous, a quick monthly feedback session (from both sides), lasting no more than five or ten minutes, will go further in making goals tangible and achievable and it is easier for an employee to see and document any changes that have been implemented over the twelve-month period.

2012 Leadership & Emotional Intelligence Summit

2012 Leadership & Emotional Intelligence SummitThe 2012 Leadership & Emotional Intelligence Summit is a powerful one-day event that explores how organizations can more effectively identify, measure and develop successful leadership behaviours. It takes place at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London, on 9th March 2012.

The Summit brings together Dr Paul Ekman, a world-leading psychologist and global pioneer in understanding emotions named by Time Magazine as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People, with Dr Martyn Newman, consulting psychologist and recognized expert in emotional intelligence and leadership, as well as leading HR professionals from around the world.

For more information head to eqsummit.com.

Why HR needs good negotiation skills, and how you can build them

Why HR needs good negotiation skills, and how you can build themWhen the Government first announced that the public sector would have to make severe cuts, Richard Crouch, HR director of Somerset County Council, suggested that some HR teams would lack the necessary negotiation skills to deal with the changes.

Since then, Crouch has been forced to change his mind. He believes that, since the economic downturn started to bite, HR professionals now enter so many discussions about redundancies, pay and performance that they have had no choice but to hone their negotiation skills.

For the full story on how HR teams have improved their negotiating skills and tips on how to improve your own negotiating skills go to personeltoday.com.

The 10 things managers must do to increase employee engagement

According to David Zinger, here are the 10 things managers must do if they want to increase employee engagement.

Achieve Results
Engagement is more than a feeling, survey number, or a YouTube happy dance. We engage in actions directed towards results. The first key to consider when acting to increase employee engagement is what results are you working to achieve and how can you involve all employees in formulating those results or achieving those results? Powerful results matter to managers, organizations, employees, and customers.

For more information go to David Zinger’s website.

Photo: Paul Downey

How data protection laws have impacted HR in 2011


Data protection can be an area of concern to many HR professionals due to the significant amount of personal data that they come into contact with on a day-to-day basis. It is, therefore, of vital importance to ensure that an adequate framework is in place that complies with the requirements of data protection legislation and ensures that high standards are followed by all relevant personnel.

It is essential to have an understanding of what types of personal data are covered by data protection legislation. Essentially, any information that directly or indirectly allows an individual to be identified, either as a computerised record or held in a manual filing system is considered to be data. Personal data that is considered to be sensitive data requires a higher level of care as it has the potential to be used in a discriminatory manner. This includes information such as an individual’s health, race, religion, sexuality or political views.

Personal and sensitive data
HR professionals have access to personal and sensitive personal data on a day-to-day basis and it is, therefore, important that there are appropriate policies and procedures in place that set out the way that such data should be handled. Data must be processed in a way that is both fair and lawful. There must be a valid and identified reason for processing data. Additionally, individuals need to be notified of what data is collected about them and how it will be used.

It is essential that thought is given to the standards that are put in place to govern the use of personal data. Any data processed must be relevant and must not be excessive. It has to be accurate information and should be updated. It should not be kept any longer than is necessary. Policies and procedures should, therefore, be drawn up, implemented and reviewed to ensure that proactive management of the personal data held meets with a set of pre-determined standards.

Right to request
HR professionals should remember that an individual has the right to request access to the personal information held about them. As well as computerised records and standard documentation, this can include hand written notes that are kept on file. It is, therefore, important that meeting notes and any comments written on documents are factual and could cause no embarrassment in the event that they require disclosure.

Due to the amount of personal and sensitive data that HR departments hold, it is essential that an appropriate level of security be in place to ensure that the data held is not compromised in any way, either deliberately or accidentally. Clear guidance should be drawn up about who is responsible for the security of data and how this will be managed. Robust policies should be implemented that set up a framework for the management of personal data and staff must have adequate training.

Data protection is an area of risk for HR professionals due to the nature of the personal information that they deal with daily. To mitigate this risk it is essential that an appropriate framework be in place that sets out the standards to be followed and responsibilities that others have to uphold, so that personal information is used in a fit and proper manner and not compromised in any way.

Photo: Svein M

How social media changed recruitment practices for ever

Social recruiting is something of a hot topic and has become one of the buzzwords of 2011. It can, however, be difficult to know where to start or how to make sure that you get the most benefit from using web and networking sites. There is no right or wrong way to use social recruiting, however. It is a concept rather than a prescriptive way of doing things and as such, employers in many different fields are able to draw on the aspects of social recruiting that work for them.

Social recruiting is essentially a means of identifying and communicating with potential employees and building relationships with them. It is an additional tool rather than a replacement to traditional recruitment methods. It encompasses the basic elements that are required for any recruitment process, using new media as a means of attracting and carrying out preliminary vetting of potential candidates.

The web as a marketing tool
One of the simplest ways to embrace social recruiting is to use the web effectively as a marketing tool. By advertising online on websites that are relevant to the industry or field that you work in, you are able to target a much wider pool of people than by only using traditional methods. Twitter and Facebook can be a great way to advertise jobs, particularly if you work in an industry that is IT or media savvy.
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Twenty HR gurus making an impact on Twitter

20 HR Gurus you must follow on TwitterHR is all about people – and so is Twitter – so a combination of the two seems obvious and perhaps explains why there are so many HR professionals on Twitter talking about their sector. Whether you want some quick tips, a chance to network or links to the best HR content, these are our 20 HR gurus you must follow on Twitter.

Tweeter: Jason Corsello
Tweets things like: “Really enjoyed #hrtecheurope and spending time with customers. Very unique views of HR & tech across Europe. Thx Amsterdam”

Tweeter: Jason Averbook
Tweets things like: “Most #HRMS systems today were implemented before the internet was around; how can we deploy today’s solutions in the same manner #crazy”

Tweeter: Bill Kutik
Tweets things like: “Group Statistics for HR Technology Conference”

Tweeter: Todd Raphael
Tweets things like: “A job description that’s about the candidate, not the employer.”

Tweeter: Laurie Ruettimann
Tweets things like: “Going through my google reader catching up on #HR blogs. I see saturation, maturity, complacency. Nothing that jumps out at me. Am I wrong?”

Tweeter: Jessica Lee
Tweets things like: “Cynical me wonders is it dropping or are ppl not filing? RT @CNNmoney: Unemployment claims drop to 7-month low”

Tweeter: Jason Seiden
Tweets things like: “Great suggestion from @badgergirl to hold #AjaxSocMed client conference in Banff next year. Networking 2 b done while heli-skiing.”

Tweeter: Naomi Bloom
Tweets things like: “While much younger than me, @Grady_Booch captures the history of computing that I have lived right here”

Tweeter: Sharlyn Lauby
Tweets things like: “It’s so important to network all the time just not when you need it. Have a great session!”

Tweeter: Ben Eubanks
Tweets things like: “@DaveTheHRCzar It most certainly was not. Agree-if U don’t like them in short interview there’s low chances of enjoying their employment!”

Tweeter: Mark Stelzner
Tweets things like: “I’m reading, “Anger Has No Place in Business”, a great @NYTimes interview of Robert L. Johnson”

Tweeter: Mary Wilson
Tweets things like: “Had a great time today doing LinkedIn makeovers with the delightful @phyllismufson. Finally met in person after 3 yrs of tweeting together.”

Tweeter: Shirley Ray
Tweets things like: “Job seekers, do you approach your profession tactically or strategically? Top tier employers want strategically tactical “A” players.”

Tweeter: Susan Heathfield
Tweets things like: “Interesting concept: job sharing to keep more people employed. Less hours and less pay, but more people working…”

Tweeter: Lisa Rosendahl
Tweets things like: “Have your read @alevit new book, Blind Spots, filled with a ton of career advice? I did!”

Tweeter: Jason Alba
Tweets things like: “Flying to NJ/NYC to speak at Cornell on Saturday… excited!!”

Tweeter: Kevin W. Grossman
Tweets things like: “Here’s the money shot. Q6: How can #TChat be improved? What would you like us to do in year two? #tchat”

Tweeter: John Sumser
Tweets things like: “Looking for work? Here’s a job fair touting tech openings in India – Computerworld http://bit.ly/rq0URR <– How did I miss this?”

Tweeter: David Shepherd
Tweets things like: “Catching up with post and comments on workplace social media policies I’m in favour”

Tweeter: Cyndy Trivella
Tweets things like: “New blog on http://www.nastalenttalk! @mattkaisersd offers tips for the onsite #application process. #hr #recruitment”