Posts Tagged ‘Human Resources’

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workers from the EU who are flooding out of the UK are looking to Ireland as an escape route – but a move to the Republic will only make financial sense for a select few.

Trayc Keevans, global foreign direct investment director at Morgan McKinley told Fora her firm’s most recent employment monitor shows there has been a 12-month peak in the number of professionals registering for opportunities in Ireland.

UK-based financial services and tech professionals were the largest groups showing an interest in Ireland, while those in similar roles from the continent were also likely to be weighing a move here.

“The higher-earning professionals that are coming in, they are not experiencing the challenges that we’re reading about (housing),” Keevans said.

“Indeed research shows that global jobseekers looking for jobs in technology have not been put off by Brexit just yet.

“This suggests that Britain could keep its position as a global tech magnet in a post-Brexit world, provided that the economy continues to grow, and migration policy is sufficiently flexible to accommodate an internationally mobile skilled workforce.”

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Voltedge Management

Tips for Good Probation Management

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

It’s well known that probations extended past 12 months run the risk of redress under the Unfair Dismissals Acts. However, employers also need to be aware that employees can have redress from day one of employment under section 20 of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969, or indeed the Employment Equality Acts where reasons for termination are discriminatory in the employee’s view.

Essentially, probation is a time to assess a new hire’s suitability. Employers who view probation management as a natural extension to the hiring process, who communicate well and who deftly demonstrate fair process can save themselves costly headaches in the long run.

  1. Align Expectations

Ensure you align expectations early by including a robust probation clause in the contract of employment. The clause should cover, at a minimum, the purpose of probation as being time to assess the employees’ suitability, the duration of the probation period, that probation review meetings will take place, that the employee can pass or fail prior to the end of the probation period, that the probation period can be extended, that probation can be paused in the event of absence, and that the full rigours of the disciplinary procedure do not apply during probation.

  1. Communication

Be clear and up front early on about what is expected of the employee in their role by agreeing objectives (ideally SMART). Do not wait to the end of the probation period to discuss any shortcomings. Be fair to the employee by meeting them early to address any suitability or performance concerns, affording them opportunity to improve and following up afterwards giving them clear and balanced feedback. Ensure that they are aware that these meetings are all probation review meetings. Communication early and throughout the probation period is key, not solely at the end of it.

  1. Follow Fair Process

Ensure that you give the employee very clear feedback on any suitability concerns you have identified,  giving them adequate and reasonable time to improve. Provide them with the assurance that you will support during this time however be clear with them that non improvements puts them at risk of their employment being terminated.

  1. Keep a Record

Simple crafted email communications sent immediately following a meeting can support the employee’s understanding of the issue at hand, thus reducing the chance of matters being different in the employee’s view either now or at a future date, whilst also providing you opportunity to provide clarity of process and document an all-important paper trail of fair process in the event this needs to be demonstrated at a future date.

Sarah Treacy, HR Associate

Coaching – Making it Successful for You and Your Team

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

In this article we try to demystifying Coaching and help explain the benefits that can be achieved both personally and corporately.

We have a very experienced team of Executive Coaches who support our clients in a number of different ways, sometimes it can be around Stepping up into Leadership Responsibilities, sometimes it can form part of a Management Development Programme or it can be supporting someone as they make a Career Transition decision.

It is always an exciting process as you see the individual progress and blossom as they go on the Coaching Journey and of course, getting an opportunity to connect and form a bond with their coach can make all the different.

If this is an area of interest for you or if you are looking at ways to support your management or leadership team or if you are considering extend the support to an individual with the ability and potential, and just needs that little extra to make them successful, then do get in touch, we’d be delighted to share some of our success stories with you and talk to you about our outstanding team of Professional & Executive Coaches.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a medium for professional development which is goal oriented, customised and delivered on a one to one basis. It is time set aside for reflection and personal decision making, facilitated by a qualified practitioner. Often referred to as Executive Coaching, it can be beneficial to people at any career stage.

Why might you engage a Coach?

Typically Coaching is used to bring about change at an individual or organisational level. That change usually concerns some aspect of professional development. Coaching gets to parts of your development other learning interventions don’t reach. It allows people to get to the root of issues either personal or interpersonal and to gain the clarity required to make decisions and bring about lasting change.

Who is it for?

Coaching is for everyone and when it is a company funded programme, it is often seen by participants as a reward or demonstration of commitment by the organisation to their further development.  Coaching is delivered across a broad range of organisations in terms of size and sector and can align easily with most training budgets.

What does good practice look like?

Coaching is still somewhat unregulated, so it is important to know what good practice should look like. If you are seeking a  coaching engagement for yourself or on behalf of your organisation , ensure  the Coach is suitably qualified, accredited and brings relevant experience to the assignment. Coaching should be delivered in a professional and structured manner including a suitable venue (i.e. a private meeting room, not a hotel foyer), specified session duration and appropriate confidentiality. The engagement and fit between Coach and Coachee is important so  hold  off on a longer term commitment until after the first session or arrange for an initial meeting between the coach and coachee to ensure there is a good fit.

What is the difference between Coaching and Mentoring?

Coaching is different from mentoring in a few ways, most notably in that  the subject matter expert in the room is in fact the Coachee – the Coach does not need to be a subject matter expert ie: engineering expert to coach an engineeer. The primary role of a Coach is not to give advice but to support and journey with the coachee as they arrive at their own conclusions and enhanced awareness. A mentoring relationship with another party can complement the coaching process, but the mentor is a subject matter expert and so you would expect an engineer to mentor an engineer.

When not to use Coaching?

It is not advisable to use coaching in the context of underperformance, unless the coaching is being provided to the line manager to assist them in managing the underperformer. This is for a number of reasons not least of all that Coaching is ideally viewed as a positive intervention in an organisation rather than as a final resort or gesture.

Coaching is not a substitute for poor people management. A line manager who lacks the people skills required for their role, might benefit from coaching themselves but should not be encouraged to delegate this aspect of their role to an external coach.

What are the benefits of Coaching?

Coaching is possibly the most customised form of professional development available. It is flexible in terms of its delivery and can be scheduled to fit easily with the coachee’s work schedule. People who engage in coaching benefit at both a personal and professional level and have an opportunity to address recurring and legacy issues which may have been blockers to career advancement. Coaching offers an excellent return on investment.

Michele Murphy, Voltedge Management Associate

Get Fit at Your Desk

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

I’ve spoken about how much time we spend sitting and the negative impact it has on our lives. A big one being on our fitness levels. Sitting clearly can’t make us fit or that’s what we think!  Yes, you can get fit at your desk, if you don’t mind attracting attention and jeopardising your image and sensible reputation at the same time!

Ready to give it a go?

Let’s start with some gentle desk yoga and stretches to ease tension, improve posture and get the blood flowing.  

Sit with two feet flat on the floor and bum pressed into back of chair.

Seated Crescent Moon Pose

This lovely side stretch helps ease neck and shoulder tension.  Simply lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers wide. Lean to the right, taking 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the left side for another 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat as many times you need.

Wrist and Finger Stretches

Tapping away at a computer and cause tension to build up in the muscles and tendons in the fingers, hands, and wrists, so extra blood flow to these areas is always appreciated.  Every couple of hours try these two movements:

  • Extend the arms to the sides or overhead and draw 5 to 10 circles inward and outward through the wrists. Next, quickly spread the fingers and close the fists, repeating this 5 to 10 times to shake off any excess tension.
  • Stretch each arm out and bend the wrist inward then outward, counter-stretching with your other hand. Hold each side 5 to 10 breaths.

Desk Plank Pose

Place your hands shoulder width distance or wider at the desk edge. Step your feet back until your feet are directly under your hips as you create a pleasant feeling traction for your spine. Hold 5 to 10 breaths and let this pose help you undo all the negative effects of sitting. (Only do this if your desk is fixed into position.)

Rubber Neck
Sit up tall and drop your right ear down towards your right shoulder (you don’t have to touch it!) and hold for a few seconds and repeat for the left side.  Bring your head back to the upright position before doing the next stretch.

Turn your head the left and try and look over your shoulder and hold for a few seconds … repeat on the right.

Starting with your head again in the upright position, drop your chin down towards your chest and gently roll your head from side to side.

Shrugs
Your colleagues might think you are reacting to something you are reading with this one but it’s a great tension reliever. Raise both shoulders up towards your ears and hold for a few seconds and release, repeat as many times as you need to.

Chest Opener
Bring your hands behind your back, press your palms together, sit up tall and hold for 5–10 seconds. A little like a backward praying pose.

Knee Press
This one stretches out the glutes. With your right ankle on your left knee, gently press against the right knee a few times. Swap over to the left side and repeat.

Now that you’re all warmed up it’s time for the real exercise to begin. Grab a glass of water and get moving and ignore the funny looks you might get!

 Walk/Jog/Run in Place

You do have to stand up for this but can stay at your desk. Just start moving as quickly as you can for 30–45 seconds, between 3–5 times. Walking, jogging or running on the spot will get the heart pumping.

 Push-Ups

Don’t panic you will not have to lie on office floor to do this.  Use your desk or a wall and push up from it doing 10 – 20 reps at a time.

 Squats

These are great for toning and shaping, simply stand up and sit back down and repeat 10 – 20 times.

 Jumping

Jumping with both feet at once, or alternate if that is too difficult, pretend you’re jumping over a rope. Increase the intensity by adding some arm movements.

Calf Raises

Stand up behind your chair and hold on for support. Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Do 3 sets of 10.

 Glute Squeeze

This is a really easy one to do and no one will even know you are doing it!  Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can and hold for 10–30 seconds. Do as many as you can as often as you can.

 Shoulder Press

Find a heavy book or small box that weighs a hold it at shoulder height and then raise it all the way overhead. Do this about 10 times and repeat 3 times.

 Wall Sit

Another easy but really effective one. Stand with your back against the wall and slowly lower yourself into a seated position and hold for 10–30 seconds at a time and feel the burn.

 Lunges

Do this at your desk by putting one leg in front of the other and gently lowering the knee of your back leg down towards the floor. Try between 10 and 15 per leg.  Alternatively, you can lunge your way around the office, long corridors are good spaces.  You might get some strange looks!

Try some or all of these as often as you can so they become part of your everyday routine.

And remember to do some work during or in between exercises and not only will your fitness levels increase but so should your productivity and performance. Get your colleagues moving too, a bit of competitiveness and camaraderie will keep you motivated.

 

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Your HR Questions Answered

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: We have a date booked for our company Christmas Party, what should we do to make sure employees know the behaviour that is expected of them without ruining the spirit of celebration this time of year?

A: The Christmas season is certainly a busy time for various office parties and Christmas lunches or dinners out, with work colleagues and it’s a time where employers want to extend their appreciation for the hard work and commitment of the employees during the year. But of course, these events can sometimes lead on to issues that can arise Under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2011, or the company Dignity at Work Policy. Employers have significant responsibilities for their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing at company events even when they are outside of the workplace, – or when the employee acts without the employer’s knowledge or approval.

It can be a good time to remind employees of the company’s various policies around code of conduct and expected behaviours. So, without dampening the spirits of the Christmas season or being the party pooper, it is good practice to circulate a note to all employees as a reminder of the importance of a shared expectation of respect and dignity at work related events, and for individual managers to follow up on this in their team meetings.

The policies that are important to communicate are:

  • Dignity at Work Policy and Code of Ethics Statement
  • Social Media in the Workplace Policy
  • Disciplinary and Grievance Policy
  • Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Policy
  • Timekeeping and Attendance Policy

For further advice or information on company policies, please contract our Operations Manager Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie and she’d be delighted to brief you further.

Voltedge Management

News from the Courts – Employee dismissed during probation period

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Employee dismissed during probation period awarded €90,000 in compensation

In a recent case before the Labour Court where a well known hotel dismissed an employee during the probation period because they felt it wasn’t working out, were found to have unfairly dismissed the employee in question and the employee was awarded a settlement of €90,000 in full and final settlement.

At the hearing, the claimant said he was headhunted by the Employer to accept a role as General Manager of the Hotel which meant he had moved from Dublin to Kerry to take up the role in January 2018 and that he was dismissed without warning on 27th April 2018 by the Managing Director. While the employer rejected that he had indeed been headhunted, the Managing Director felt he was entitled to dismiss the claimant as the contract of employment unequivocally provides that either party can terminate the contract by giving written notice during the probationary period.

However, when the matter was reviewed by the Court, they noted that the Claimant was furnished with a 36-month fixed term contract, which provided that “All dismissals will be carried out in accordance with the Provisions of Part Two of this Contract”. Part Two of the contract outlined the disciplinary procedures, which included:

  • the carrying out a full investigation before dismissal;
  • being informed of the reasons for the dismissal;
  • the right to reply;
  • the right to be accompanied at meetings and the right to appeal a decision to dismiss.

Having considered the positions of both sides, the Court was of the view that the procedures adopted in the termination of the Claimant’s employment were seriously flawed. He was not afforded fair procedures in accordance with the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures S.I. No. 146 of 2000.

Where an employee is considered unsuitable for permanent employment, the Court accepts that an employer has the right, during a probationary period, to decide not to retain that employee in employment. However, the Court takes the view that this can only be carried out where the employer adheres strictly to fair procedures. This requirement of procedural fairness is rooted in the common law concept of natural justice.

The Court was satisfied that the Claimant was not provided with details of any performance issues; no warning was given that his employment was in jeopardy; he was not afforded the right to representation; he was not provided with reasons for his dismissal and he was not afforded an opportunity to reply. Therefore, the Court was satisfied that he was denied natural justice.

Voltedge Management

Talent and Recruitment

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Dental Nurse

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

IdentiGEN

Marketing Director

Olivia Buckley International

Event Designer

Orwell Surgery

GP – Secretary

PCO Manufacturing

Quality Assurance Analyst

SDL Exhibitions

Accounts Assistant (Part-Time)

Business Development Executive

Smart Factory

Chief Financial Officer

YouLend

Sales Support Executive

Inspiration from some of Ireland’s Leading Female Executives

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

 

National Women’s Enterprise Day aims to encourage women to set up their own businesses and to increase national recognition of the essential role played by Ireland’s leading female entrepreneurs.

Voltedge Management would like to celebrate six Irish female executives, each of whom have achieved outstanding accomplishments in their area of expertise. We asked them to share with us some insights on their experiences and how they draw inspiration from the environment around them, role models they had during their careers, the best advice they received, and what they see as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

 

Avril Daly, CEO of Retina International

Voltedge: What is your current role and how long you have held this position?

Avril: Since January 2016 I have been CEO of Retina International, a global umbrella group of 43 patient led charities and foundations supporting research into retinal degenerative conditions that cause severe vision loss. Prior to this I was CEO of the Irish research charity, Fighting Blindness. I am also the Vice President of EURORDIS, the European Rare Disease organisation.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Avril: I have worked in health advocacy for 18 years, in the area of vision loss and rare disease. I am constantly inspired by those that I meet, the patients, the parents, the clinicians, the scientists, industry and indeed the legislators who all work together to achieve consensus that can lead to effective health policy to change lives. What is really fascinating is the ingenuity of necessity that results in mums, in particular, coming up with systems and solutions that they share to help their peers and their children cope with the impact of rare diseases on their daily lives.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Avril: More than one, in this sector you are mentored by many individuals across disciplines from drug development to social care. I would not be doing what I do today had it not been for one person, Michael Griffith. Michael was the first CEO of Fighting Blindness. The focus of the organisation is to find cures for vision loss through the promotion of research. This involves advocating for structures that will lead to progress in research for age related and genetically inherited retinal disease. To advocate for improved clinical trial processes and to work with all stakeholders to improve access to therapies. A tall order.

What Michael understood was no one group, no one disease area could achieve this alone. He taught me that by aligning with other groups with similar objectives, we can all achieve our overarching goals. That is why we work so closely with rare disease groups and other vision groups internationally. He taught me in a small country you must look beyond borders – research and drug development is a global task.

To me, a true leader can take in a lot of information but does not hold onto it, the information is shared, it is discussed with the team. A leader listens to the perspective of all of the team and that information is put to good use. Michael remains a true leader, a genuine promoter of women in business and now in retirement a good friend.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Avril: Look beyond your network – as those whose partnership will enable you to achieve the goals of your community may not necessarily be obvious.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Avril: Time, taking the time to step back and to consider. It is easy to fall into an instant unconsidered response because we are all accessible every minute of every day 365 days of the year. Time to consider complex decisions should not be a luxury.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Avril:

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.

Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour.

Keep your behaviour positive because your behaviour becomes your habits.

Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.

Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.

Mahatma Ghandi

When you work in patient advocacy for unmet medical need, it is a long and winding road, it is easy to become disheartened. Keeping a positive approach as a community and supporting each other really can affect change.

 

Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel

Voltedge: What is your current role and how long have you have held this position?

Deirdre: I am Chief Executive Officer of The Wheel, and have been in this role for 18 years.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Deirdre: From the front-line impact that our member organisations have day-in day-out. The level of commitment, passion and ingenuity that people who work in charities bring to making social change happen is humbling to see. It inspires me to help and support them every day. It’s also why my role remains exciting and fulfilling after so many years.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Deirdre: Two of the founding leaders behind The Wheel who are both very sadly now deceased: Dr Mary Redmond, an extraordinary visionary in the fields of law, academia and social entrepreneurship; and Kate O’Sullivan, a wise and impactful founding CEO of the Carmichael Centre. I learned to dream big from Mary and to implement wisely from Kate…. two traits that I hope I mimic to some extent over my time in The Wheel.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Deirdre: Don’t worry about what others are doing, just focus on leading this organisation to be the very best that it can be.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

 Deirdre: Particularly pertaining to leaders of charities and other non-profits, we have to spend far too much of our time ensuring that our organisations have secure funding to continue for the next 6 – 12 months. If we could get funding lines secured over multiple years we would be able to focus much more on the impact and positive social change our organisation is making: communicating it better and listening and learning as to how to do things even better.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

 Deirdre: From Charles Handy: “Be the best you can be, at the thing you are best at, in the service of others”. This sums up my sense of personal values and in an extraordinarily pithy way also describes a motto for a fulfilled life. I only came across this about two years ago at an event that The Wheel hosted for the senior leaders in our membership organisations but I think of it often since.

 

Eimear Cahalin, Co-Founder and CFO of Vivid Edge

Voltedge: What is your current role and how long you have held this position?

 Eimear: I’m co-founder and CFO of Vivid Edge. We’re providing energy efficiency as a service to large energy consumers to help them accelerate their energy efficiency plans, and kickstart projects that are desirable but aren’t getting done for various reasons. For instance, a great project might have a four-year payback, and the internal hurdle is three years; we use a service model to make the project happen.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Eimear: Everywhere! I’m an avid reader, across business, science, sport, psychology, nutrition, poetry and fiction. I really believe that a lot of innovation comes from cross-pollination of ideas and I love abstracting an idea from one area and applying it in another.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

 Eimear: My father was key. He came from a very humble background and ended up Finance Director of an oil company. He never talked about success, he just worked hard at making it happen. He taught me I could do anything I put my mind to. He believed women were the backbone of most organisations, from companies, to hospitals, to the Catholic Church, and was a great champion of women in the workplace long before it was fashionable.

When the likes of Margaret Downes were blazing a trail in the 1970’s (yes, I was VERY young!), he always made sure I was aware of their achievements; it was his way of saying “you can do this too”. He led me to just ignore the concept of the “glass ceiling” and get to where I want to be. He died ten years ago, and I still miss him terribly, but when I’m stuck I still ask myself how he would deal with a situation.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

 Eimear: You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. I suppose the current version of that is to be authentic. And I was reminded of it again when I saw Hamlet at the Gate the other night, so it goes back as far as Shakespeare’s day; “To thine own self be true and it must follow as the night the day, thou can’st not then be false to any man”.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

 Eimear: There are so many conflicting ideas out there of how to lead. Should we be able to be successful in a 4-hour work week, as Tim Ferriss suggests, or do you have to put in a 70-hour week and have space for nothing else in your life as others do. Is the key to success to do as John C Maxwell says, and “fail early, fail often”, or is it to persevere past Seth Godin’s “Dip”?

I think the challenge for leaders is to be able to shut out some of the noise and focus on where you are trying to get to. We need to keep asking ourselves what do we want our organisations to look like in three- or five-years’ time, to keep reassessing how we get there, not to get disheartened if it feels like the path keeps changing, and to be able to bring your people with you through what may be unsettling changes. Ultimately what I am saying is we need to take a flexible path to a fixed prize, without appearing flaky!

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Eimear: A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. There a certainly risks to venturing outside your comfort zone, but you’ll almost certainly rust away if you stay in the harbour. It’s very easy to sit back and let life happen, but I believe the rewards of having a growth mindset and taking a risk every now and then can’t be beaten.

 

Kathryn Meghen, CEO of The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

Voltedge: What is your current role and how long you have held this position?

Kathryn: I am CEO of the RIAI, which is the membership, support and registration body for Architects in Ireland, with 3700 members.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Kathryn: The quality of our buildings is so important – our homes, offices, education buildings and public spaces all effect the quality of our lives. I am inspired by the people I work with – their expertise and passion for excellence and their ability to create and deliver amazing work constantly inspires me.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

 Kathryn: At different stages of my career there have been different people that I have look up to and looked to for advice and guidance. I have always been so impressed by how generous busy people are with their time and expertise. I hope that I am now in a position to offer help to others.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Kathryn: Trust your instincts.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

 Kathryn: Keeping the organisation focused and staff motivated amid increasing pace of change and ever-growing distractions.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Kathryn: “Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” Jack Ma Founder of Alibaba

 

Olivia Buckley, Founder and Managing Director of Olivia Buckley International

Voltedge: What is your current role and how long you have held this position?

Olivia: I am the Founder and Managing Director of Olivia Buckley International, a luxury event management company based in Ireland and have been operating since 2013.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Olivia: When people ask me what I was like as a child, I always remember one incident in particular where I decided to take it upon myself to clean out and “redecorate” the chicken coop. The joy that I took in taking something, be it an object or an area and transforming it into something else has obviously stayed with me to this day and explains a lot about my field of work! I find inspiration absolutely everywhere, art, nature, people, travel, books or films and am always open to new ideas and concepts, from the ridiculous to the sublime!

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Olivia: I have been lucky enough to cross paths with some wonderful Business People over the years but I have to give a special mention to Simon T. Bailey. I first met Simon at an Industry Networking Event. He had such wonderful charisma and was so friendly that we connected straight away. It was a wonderfully memorable encounter where we spoke about life and its’ endless possibilities and from that it was inevitable that Simon and I would stay in touch he would become a great source of inspiration to me. In January 2013, after relocating back home to Kerry and taking time out to reflect on my career path I arranged a call to connect with Simon. It was this call that would influence my entire future and the beginning of something life-changing.  I would never have seen myself as someone who could run their own business but Simon has taught me to not only see my potential but to fulfill it. It was very much his support that nudged me out of my comfort zone to launch my own business. Simon has taught me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. He reminds me to not be afraid to swim upstream and defer from the crowd. Having the belief in yourself to go in the opposite direction to everyone else and step out of the safety zone are all concepts that have completely changed me as a person and ultimately fueled the success of my business today.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Olivia: Again, I will come back to Simon T. Bailey who said to me, “I want you to .com your name today. You are going places and I am coming to Ireland to launch your business with you on February 1st and watch you brilliantly soar”. Simon saying this to me was honestly life-changing. Having someone I respected so much in business, believe in me to that level was all I needed to take a leap of faith, follow my dreams and launch my own company.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Olivia: On a personal level, I feel that in Ireland, we can often have a very self-deprecating attitude that whilst charming, doesn’t always lend itself to promoting confidence and leadership, particularly in young women. It is essential that we nurture and promote confidence and self-belief in our young women so that they are motivated to fulfil their true potential. They need to believe that they can pursue their dream wholeheartedly and ferociously despite any hurdles, professional and personal that may try to get in their way so overall, I would like more leaders to acknowledge the importance of nurturing female talent and promoting female leadership.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Olivia: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle. This is an important quote to me and I think it subconsciously permeated the tagline that we created for our company, “Visionaries in Creativity – Masters of Events”. Creativity informs all of our work and mastery comes from the practice and repetition of this. We live by it and strive to achieve it daily.

 

Sue Marshall, CEO of Abodoo

Voltedge: What is your current role and how long you have held this position?                       

Sue: I am the CEO of Abodoo. Abodoo is an online career matching platform dedicated to SmartWorking. I’ve been in the role since September 2016 – so it’s been an extremely interesting time, creating and developing our business strategy, building our platform and creating a business from the Vision our Co-founders had back in the Summer of 2016.   Abodoo launched in September 2017 in Ireland and then in the UK in April this year and it’s an exciting time for us as we grow.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Sue: I am inspired more by people I meet rather than those in the spotlight. I have had the pleasure to work with some incredibly creative people over the course of my career and seen some shining stars emerge. When someone with a passion for a role really makes it their own, grows with a business and goes on to be a really great leader and motivator it inspires me.  When I see young people just starting out in their careers I am inspired by their enthusiasm.  When I meet business leaders who are working towards a better way of working, be that SmartWorking or introduction of really innovative tools, a great business idea or a new initiative – I feel inspired to help lead change.

 

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

 

Sue: I have been lucky to have had more than one mentor. However, my standout mentor was a really inspirational leader – early in my career – called Peter Preston.  At the time I was at a crossroads. I had been working towards my accountancy qualification (AAT) and was on track for a career in finance.  I was bored but felt that I was in too deep after years of study.  I was working for a start-up (Peter was the MD) and so had to get involved in lots of areas of the business as we had a limited team. Peter noticed that I was really passionate about marketing and gave me the opportunity to get my teeth into some interesting projects before ‘suggesting’ that the CIM (Certified Institute of Marketing) qualification may be more interesting long term. His support, encouragement, leadership and ultimately his guidance and training in sales and marketing were invaluable and instrumental in shaping my career.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Sue: This is an easy one. I was the Sales and Marketing Director and Shareholder of an outsourced contact centre business. We were profitable and growing and overachieving on just about every matrix from sales to profitability. We started to win some significant contracts – with larger companies – who often demanded heavily discounted rates or long credit terms… It was easy to be ‘seduced’ by client names and excited at the prospect of these much larger deals. The Finance Director gave me the following advice – Turnover is VANITY – Profit is KING. He refocused my mind on the bottom line and away from the ‘vanity’ of high turnover. That advice has stuck with me throughout my career and regardless of the ‘name’ or size of a deal – if it’s not going to turn a profit then as a business you simply cannot afford to sign the contract.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Sue: I think that there are a number of challenges, related to the economy, growth and leading a successful business – but by far and away the biggest challenge has stayed the same throughout the decades – finding the right talent at the right time.

This is why SmartWorking is such a game changer for many organisations – it opens up their talent pool. Once you realise that presenteeism is less important than output you have a whole world of talent available (quite literally!). Abodoo is championing SmartWorking in Ireland, the UK and further afield. All of our registered candidates are crying out for permanent careers which enable them to work from their local hub or home, without lengthy, costly commutes.  With this comes another challenge – actually finding the ‘gems’. Clients are fishing in a sea rather than a pond and it can be daunting. That’s why Abodoo offers a ‘matching service’. We match candidates to roles based on experience and skills and those are the only candidates you see; cutting down on time spent ploughing through CV’s and applications.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Sue: I have a number of quotes and flip between them – depending on circumstances – but one of my all-time favourites has to be from Pele – one of the greatest footballers of all time:

‘Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all love of what you are doing or learning to do’.

 

Today is an opportunity for Voltedge Management to celebrate these outstanding Irish female leaders and to extend our very best wishes to them for continued success in their careers, fulfilment and happiness in life and to thank them for their contribution to society.

If you have any enquiries regarding this article or any other topic we have covered, please call us our office 01 525 2914 or email us on info@voltedge.ie.

 

Voltedge Management

Food for Thought

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

This common expression has been around since the late 1800’s taking the idea of digestion from the stomach and transferring it to the brain. Having used this expression recently it got me thinking, no pun intended, on the effects of food on our mind and subsequently productivity and performance.

We are all familiar with the daily cycle of peaks and slumps, and although we often attribute them to food – I am hungry or I am too full – we don’t think about why exactly they are happening. Different types of food react differently with our bodies and therefore the type of fuel we put into ourselves will have varying results. Premium fuel equals premium performance! 

What we eat is almost all converted to glucose which in turn provides energy to our brain to keep it alert. When glucose is running low, we become hungry and find it difficult to concentrate and pay attention.  So, we eat! Very often our choice of food at this point is what will give us that much needed burst of energy the quickest – sugary, processed, calorie ridden, high fat – we all know the drill. And yes, they will give an immediate feeling of satiation, but it won’t last. The sugar crash that will inevitably come will make you feel weak, confused, anxious and the high calorie high fat foods will make you feel sluggish and sleepy, all contributing to poor performance and productivity.

The solution

Not allowing your energy levels to dip so low that you are not making informed healthy eating choices. Snacking (yes snacking which I’m quite fond of, my colleagues all know where my hidden goody drawer is, which I have to say does have several healthy options and not just the ubiquitous pack of biscuits), stops you from those big highs and dips and keeps the brain in a constant active, creative and productive state.

Food choices are the key ingredient to better performance with fruit and veg ranking high on the table. Research has shown that eating them throughout the day is great for the mind and the body. The British Journal of Health Psychology carried out a hugely interesting study where participants reported their food consumption, mood, and behaviours over a period of 13 days. Afterwards, researchers examined the way peoples’ food choices influenced their daily experiences. It concluded that the more fruits and vegetables people consumed (up to 7 portions), the happier, more engaged, and more creative they tended to be.

The reason for this is they contain vital nutrients that promote the production of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the experience of curiosity, motivation, and engagement.  Additionally, they provide antioxidants that minimize bodily inflammation, improve memory, and enhance mood.

What action can employers take:

  1. Have a supply of healthy snacks available for employees to eat throughout the day to maintain their energy levels.
  2. Encourage employees to make healthy lunch choices by having posters displayed in the kitchen area.
  3. If you’re buying lunch in have healthy options available and order early before employees are too hungry to make informed choices.

Here are some of the health choices you should be aiming to have in that goody drawer, kitchen cupboard, boardroom table and lunchbox:

Blueberries
These berries have a great combination of antioxidants and a high amount of gallic acid, which can protect our brain from degeneration and oxidative stress and boost our focus and memory.

Almonds

These tasty nuts are rich in healthy fatty acids, antioxidants, and plant protein. They support healthy brain function and prevent cognitive decline.

Whole grains

They will help you stay mentally alert all day long. Eat wholegrain cereals, rice, granary bread.

Pumpkin seeds

The seeds are rich in zinc which is vital for improving memory and thinking skills.

Dark chocolate

This is rich in flavonoids that increase blood flow to the brain. It can boost memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills.

Green tea

This contains theanine that can help you with focus and concentration.

Spinach
These greens contain a lot of antioxidants and can help improve learning capacity.

Broccoli
It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can improve your thinking and boost your focus.

Sunflower seeds

They are considered to be an essential source of fatty acids, proteins, and vitamins and are a great food to fight fatigue and help you stay productive.

Food for thought indeed!!

 

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The construction industry is the hardest hit sector by a decline of interest among job seekers from EU countries in working in the UK.

According to the global job site Indeed, inquiries from EU countries for construction jobs have fallen by 42% since 2015, the year in which the bill allowing for the referendum to take place became law.

Indeed analysed the number of job searches by people in EU countries and found interest in UK jobs fell sharpest among job seekers. Here’s an update on the searches for jobs in the UK from the following countries:

  • Ireland down 44%
  • Poland down 26%,
  • while searches from France, Italy and Spain have generally held the same as before.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Voltedge Management

Your Questions Answered

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: Can I force an employee to retire? 

A: Most employers have a set retirement date outlined. However, even this doesn’t guarantee that you can enforce retirement – recent cases – including a recent WRC adjudication, have paid out against employers who have tried to make employees retire against their will.

Q: So – what can I do to ensure that I don’t have a problem?          

A: There is no absolute guarantee, but we identify 4 tips below which will certainly help:

  • Retirement age: Have a set and agreed retirement age in place for employees, and ensure it is clearly stated in employment contracts and the Employee Handbook
  • Categories of Staff: Have a consistent retirement age – try to avoid different retirement ages for different positions/categories/grades as this will be seen as confusing
  • Consistent Practices: Practice what you preach! If you can stand over previous consistent retirements in recent years, and you have a precedent for retirement age, you will be in a much stronger position to continue to justify your existing retirement age
  • Retirement Policy: Have a clear Retirement Policy in place which justifies the Company retirement age, and clearly outlines the process for employees and management, including notification of retirement, an appeals mechanism etc.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

Talent and Recruitment

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Dental Nurse

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

PCO Manufacturing

Quality Assurance Analyst

Olivia Buckley International

Event Designer

SDL Exhibitions

Business Development Executive

Marketing Executive

The Benefits of Working Remotely

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

More employees want to work remotely, and employers are beginning to recognise the benefits.

Increasingly we hear people discuss the importance of work/life balance which is no surprise as companies try to maximise performance, while improvements in technology have created around the clock accessibility for employees.  It’s no wonder that people cite flexible working hours and remote working as important benefits to help them capitalise on their time.  They do not want to be desk bound Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, which very often is counterproductive anyway to their working environment if dealing with different time zones, out of hours activity and such like, and importantly doesn’t allow for many daily life events and activities.

70% of employees say flexible/remote working would make a job more attractive to them. 

Remote Working refers to any type of work that is performed outside of a traditional office or workplace. More and more people are choosing to work from home, if not every day then at least for part of their week, and some choose to work from co-working office spaces. This saves them valuable time as well as sparing them from commuting stress.

Currently there are 216,000 employees working remotely in Ireland and this figure is continually increasing.  As we approach full employment, employers will need to look at ways to encourage staff retention and incentivise the on-boarding of new talent.  The housing crisis is driving more people out of the cities and instead these people face a lengthy and costly commute.

Improvements in technology have made the employee more accessible wherever they are. Software that provides face to face meetings for multiple users in various locations, such as Skype which has become a normal part of any work day, saves a business on commute time and costs.  Office365, Dropbox, SharePoint and many others allow employees the same access from a remote location as they would have in their office.

Abodoo is a new global platform, created by Irish couple Vanessa Tierney and Ben Wainwright, a technology company that is at the forefront of encouraging SmartWorking.  In a recent interview with Silicon Republic, Vanessa Tierney is quoted as saying that “Dell, for example, has set a goal of having 50pc of its workforce working remotely by 2020. Cisco makes $277m annually in productivity savings by allowing remote working. And, here in Ireland, the likes of Shopify and Amazon all have substantial home-working teams.”

In a study conducted by YouGov, only 45% of employees said they get to work the hours that best suit them.  Of employees that are offered flexible working hours, 82% said it made them feel more positive about their job, while 79% said it was a reason to stay with their employer for longer.

Two thirds of managers say that remote workers are more productive. 30% of remote workers say they work more efficiently due to fewer distractions.  And 82% of remote workers reported lower stress levels.  So, as this is a win situation for everyone, it’s a good idea for businesses who are not already allowing remote working to consider how to introduce it.  Businesses save on overheads, fewer desks, space and resources being required.

The Irish Independent reported recently that Kefron who employ more than 150 people in Ireland and the UK have enhanced their data storage, security and remote working capabilities.  Cork firm, Teamwork, estimates that 23% of its employees work remotely.

The roll-out of the National Broadband Plan will have a huge impact on the availability of high-speed broadband thereby making remote working an option for many more employees once their employers support it.

Roslyn Keogh, Project Manager

News from the Courts – WRC awards €30,000 to employee with epilepsy

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

A solicitor who requested to work from home one day per week has been awarded €30,000. The employee suffers from epilepsy and had made the case that working one day at home would help her stress and fatigue, the employee’s epilepsy caused seizures at times which were unpredictable.

The employee’s neurologist had also given medical advice that stated that stress and fatigue can cause epileptic attacks, and that reasonable accommodation of her request to work from home should help her condition.

The employer maintained that working from home would be incompatible with the employee’s “frontline” job functions. The employee argued that her work was of a preparatory nature and that she had huge autonomy in her role.

In awarding the sum of €30,000 to the employee, the Adjudicating Officer stated that the company appeared rigid in its approach and did not take into consideration the potential improvement the time at home might have to her health. The Company also did not take into account the neurologist’s report which was received after the initial rejection of the request.

This ruling emphasises an employer’s need to seriously consider employees with disabilities and attempt to facilitate them – where possible and within the constraints of the business. (ADJ-00011821)

Voltedge Management

HR Brexit Update

Monday, September 24th, 2018

As we continue to watch the Brexit story unfold and the various challenges that still remain, the question of another Brexit vote and the possibility of a hard border still dominates much of the discussions. Our expert panel on Immigration, Employment Law, HR and Talent continue to monitor the ongoing demands Brexit is having on staffing and employees.

We are assessing the recent proposals and what they could mean for employers and employees, and continuing to encourage our clients to mobilise their Brexit Working Groups and Management Teams to stay abreast of the ongoing dialogue between the EU and Britain so that they are best placed and ready to manage the outcome of any agreement being reached.

For advice and guidance on the key issues for staff and access to talent, get in touch with us at HRBrexit@voltedge.ie .

Voltedge News – Bespoke Training Programmes

Monday, September 24th, 2018

Over the last few years, we have been developing Bespoke Training Programmes specifically for the needs of our clients. These programmes can be delivered in a number of ways:

  • from onsite ½ day sessions with the team,
  • offsite 1 day programmes,
  • as Business Bytes sessions, where we deliver the programme as a lunch and learn, lasting about 1.5 hours, or
  • using smart technology.

More recently we have been delivering our programmes using smart technology, allowing the audience  to be based in various locations. These programmes last about 1.5 – 2 hours, and are delivered through the use of technology such as Zoom, provides for questions to be raised through chat and the opportunity to accommodate delegates who may be travelling or working remotely, and so instead of juggling everyone’s diary to try and get everyone into the same room at the same time, our delegates now can be working from a hotel room, remote office, or just based in a different location.

These programmes are proving very popular and we are redesigning a number of our modules so that we can provide for more of our courses in this format. You can get a good sample of the courses we run from our website so get in touch if you have specific needs and would like to talk to us about our innovative ways of delivering training.

For more details email info@voltedge.ie or call +353 1 5252914 and ask for Ingrid.

Voltedge Management

Sleep – Are you Getting Enough?

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Sleep, how often do you think about it, discuss it, get anxious about it and more importantly actually get it?  It’s a topical modern problem. In days gone by people went to bed when it got dark and got up with the dawn – simple, and routinely the best way to sleep.  Now we are so distracted with life whether it’s work, family time, technology, keeping up with day to day tasks, the time to sleep is lessening for many. And of course there is also the bravado and bragging rights of getting very little sleep – a bit like lunch is for wimps, sleep is for the lazy.  How wrong unfortunately that way of thinking is.

We may feel shutting ourselves out of the world for 7 or 8 hours is a waste of valuable living time, but it is proven that by not shutting down and repairing our bodies, our valuable living time could actually be a lot less.  And our awake state is by no means at it’s best, most productive and innovative it can be.

If we didn’t think sleep was so important why do we talk about it all the time? There are those that feel it’s a badge to say yeah I only got 3 hours sleep, I’m WRECKED but hey I’m working 15 hour days, going to the gym, doing a night class and fitting in family time and social outings – Life is for living! And then there are those who desperately want to sleep but can’t.  Both categories are functioning well below par.

“If you regularly get less than 7 hours of sleep, you’re not at your best,” says Thomas Balkin, PhD, director of behavioural biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md. “The less sleep you get, the worse you do.”

What happens:

  • Attention span is diminished it’s harder to concentrate and your mind will wander. Staying focused becomes difficult for a sustained period of time.
  • Reaction time is longer which is a major cause of motor accidents, not being alert and able to react quickly and efficiently. For some jobs this can be a big problem.
  • Decision-making can be less rational and can result in poor choices or irresponsible action and poor judgement.
  • Memory function becomes lessened, even simple things like remembering details of an article you have just read. Map this to the work environment and things will be forgotten and missed.
  • Moods are affected with a tendency to think negatively, be grumpy, intolerant and superstitious.
  • Weigh gain is often a symptom as the hormones leptin and ghrelin which control our feelings of hunger and fullness are affected by sleep.

If the lack of sleep is a temporary situation, perhaps there is a new baby in the home or a particular life experience that is currently impacting sleep patterns, the effects can mostly be reversed. But longterm the damage can be critical.

  • An increased risk of heart attack and strokes
  • Raised risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Chronic weigh gain
  • Lower sperm counts in men
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Skin ageing

In fact the list could go on and on…

So, what actually happens when we sleep that is so critical to our health and wellbeing:

Neuroscience says:

  • Our body is rebuilding, repairing and healing while we sleep
  • Our Inner battery gets powered up
  • Hormones recalibrate
  • Body flushes toxins from our brain
  • Brain processes and performs memory consolidation
  • Sleeping enhances our creativity
  • Sleeping clears and restores our mind
  • We even burn calories while we sleep

Suddenly the people bragging about existing on minimal sleep are not as great as they might like to think they are.  In fact with a few more hours sleep they certainly will be displaying better signs of greatness and most probably feeling greater with it!

As an employer you can most likely recognise the signs of sleep deprived colleagues quite easily. Here is what you can do about it:

  • Encourage employees to get some natural bright light during the day by taking a walk outside, the exercise and light will have an alerting effect. Open blinds and curtains to let in as much natural light as possible into the work environment.
  • Encourage employees to arrange important meetings or schedule critical pieces of work when they know they are at their brightest in the day, if possible.
  • Monitor caffeine intake, it may be needed to get started in the day but it can effect sleep for up to 8 to 10 hours.
  • Provide the opportunity if possible take a short power nap which can have an enormous reviving effect on those able to do so. Not everyone can shut off though for 10 minutes!
  • Have a technical power down policy, where employees are not encouraged to be sending late night emails or responding to messages.
  • Monitor workloads and be aware of employees who are taking on too much.
  • Be sympathetic and encourage any chronic sufferers to get help.

According to the World Health Organisation the actual number of hours needed for adult sleep is 8 hours 36 mins.  Working backwards from your normal wake-up time I’m guessing most readers (me included) will have to start getting into the PJs a bit earlier tonight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Your Questions Answered

Monday, September 17th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: When an employee is out on sick leave, do they accrue entitlement to annual leave and if so, for how long?

A: Yes an employee who is certified absent from work due to sick leave is entitled to accrue their entitlement annual leave, and carry that forward for a period of 15 months. This is a change to the Organisation of Working Time Act by the commencement of Section 86(1) of the Workplace Relations Act 2015? Section 86(1) amends Sections 19, 20 and 23 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. The effect of the amendments is as follows:

  • Employees will accrue statutory annual leave entitlement while on certified sick leave.
  • There will be an increase in the annual leave carryover period from 6 months to 15 months for those employees who could not, due to illness, take annual leave during the relevant leave year or during the normal carryover period of 6 months after the end of the leave year.
  • On termination of employment, payment in lieu of untaken annual leave will apply to leave which was untaken as a result of illness in circumstances where the employee leaves the employment within a period of 15 months following the end of the leave year during which the leave entitlement accrued.

Q: Can I give an employee on a fixed term contract an extension to that contract if I still need them to stay on for longer than I originally wanted without them becoming a permanent employee?

A: An employee who has been employed on 2 or more continuous fixed term contracts, will deem to be employed in an open-ended contract if the total duration of those contracts exceeds 4 years. If the employee is reemployed within a 3 month period between fixed term contracts, then they will be deemed to have continuous services.

You should note also that the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 applies to most employees on fixed-term contracts. However, it does not apply to agency workers placed by a temporary work agency at the disposition of a user enterprise or to apprentices, trainees and people in publicly-funded employment schemes such as Community Employment. The Act does apply to agency workers employed directly by an employment agency.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

Worker Wins Appeal Over Fixed-Term vs. Fixed-Purpose Contract

Monday, September 17th, 2018

The Labour Court has decided to over-turn and award the appeal of a clerical officer, working at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, who was wrongly assigned a contract of indefinite duration by the Work Relations Commission (WRC) earlier in the year.

The appeal has highlighted an important distinction between fixed-term and fixed-purpose contracts.

Fixed-Term

According to the SFA, a fixed term contract of employment is when the employee has a contract directly with an employer with the end outcome being one of the following; a specific end date, completion of a task or the occurrence of a specific event.

Fixed-Purpose

A fixed purpose contract is similar in that, the employee has a contract with the employer but is only employed to carry out a specific purpose, and once that specific job is completed, the contract will cease.

In this case, the WRC determined the worker had amassed a length of employment- through continuous fixed-term contracts, to be classed as a contract of indefinite duration as per the Fixed-Term Work Act 2003.

However, the Clerical Officer had been employed to work a fixed-purpose contract- to facilitate the implementation of a scheme, with no end date referred to, compared to a fixed-term contract. It was argued that the Fixed-Term Act – which covers the umbrella term of fixed/specified -purpose contract, does not mention anything to prevent a fixed-purpose contract from lasting more than the 4-year limit of a fixed-term contract. The Court stated that given the contract of employment specified a fixed-purpose, not a fixed-term, the employee did not fall under the 4-year fixed-term contract limit, and therefore, did not require a change of contract to indefinite duration.

This has raised concerns in relation to the interpretation of the fixed-term contract Law, in relation to specified-purpose contracts. This is an important benchmark – please contact Voltedge Management for further information and advice.

(FTD184 Labour Court Case)

For more details email info@voltedge.ie or call +353 1 5252914 and ask for Ingrid.

News from the Courts – Paddy Power Loses Case

Monday, September 17th, 2018

The Workplace Relations Commission has found the Bookmakers to be in breach of the Working Time Act 1997, as it was found that employees were working over the legal 4 hour and 30 minutes, without taking 15-minute breaks.

The employer had used an electronic sales system, which kept a somewhat reliable record of employee’s activity on the till, and when they were off it. It was argued that the employer did not ensure the employees received statutory breaks, and that inactivity on the till could not count as a break.

The employees also stated they often had to deal with customers during their given break times, meaning they did not get uninterrupted breaks set out under Law.

Submissions from Paddy Power declared staff were encouraged to take breaks at quieter times and offered a flexible regime, to take personal-paid time off if they wished. However, the WRC did not agree that the system in place accurately measured break times, and that the flexible leave did not mean the employer was abiding by the 15-minute break rule for shifts more than 4 hours 30 minutes.

A clock- in, or similar system, was not used at the Paddy Power facility in question, which may have helped to prevent this breach from occurring.

It is important for employers to remember that it is there responsibility to ensure employees take their statutory breaks, and that these should be uninterrupted and taken in full.

(ADJ-00012077/12079/12080 WRC)

Talent & Recruitment

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Dental Nurse

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

PCO Manufacturing

Commercial Director

The Relocation Bureau

Relocation Coordinator

Other

Inhouse Recruiter

Property Administrator

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, August 27th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: My team work really well together but recently I have had two complaints about one member who is not pulling their weight. I don’t feel it is a major issue.

A: As a manager you have a duty of care to all your reports, and if there is a perception about an employee not being productive in the team, then this needs to be dealt with. We suggest that you meet the individuals who have complained, understand the context, and then deal with the issue either as a genuine complaint to be followed up with the individual or explain the context and that the individual is not effective due to other issues (possibly outside of the individual’s scope).

Q: I have had a complaint of harassment made by a junior staff member about one of my managers – I don’t think it is justified and was hoping it might ‘die down’.

A: You have a responsibility to the employee but also to the manager if they are being accused of inappropriate behaviour. You should review your policies and procedures and firstly approach this as an informal issue. In the first instance you need to decide whether there is a genuine issue here – if the employee perceives that there is an issue you must follow up on it.

Hopefully you can resolve it by talking to the employee who made the complaint and resolving it either by getting the two people to talk, or by facilitating a discussion. If not, you may need to move to a formal process.

Q: An employee has complained that they are not getting enough breaks and that their eyesight is affected by sitting at a computer screen all day. We do enforce breaks and expect employees to manage their time so I don’t see this as an issue.

A: As an employer, you are required, under the Safety and Health regulations, to provide sufficient breaks (outlined in the Working Time Acts) and to also ensure that equipment is suitable and not causing any health issues. We suggest that you check that this employee is taking breaks regularly, and also offer them the opportunity to go for an eye test (which can be covered as a benefit when employees are paying PRSI). Here is a checklist to work from:

  • Carry out an analysis or risk assessment of employee workstations
  • Provide information to employees in relation to measures which have been implemented
  • Provide training to employees in the use of workstations before commencing work with display screen equipment and whenever the organisation of the workstation is modified
  • Perform a further analysis or risk assessment where an employee transfers to a new workstation or significant new work equipment, change of equipment or new technology is introduced
  • Ensure that the provision of an appropriate eye and eyesight test is made available to every relevant employee

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

Less Stress, More Success!

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Work-related stress is on the increase – due to the modern-day workplace and the demands faced by employees.  With positions becoming far more flexible, individuals are expected to go above and beyond their given roles, and we are finding new job titles and roles developing that were not in existence even 2 years ago. This means learning new skills as well as teaching colleagues, while still trying to complete deadlines.

There is no doubt that a certain amount of stress is a good thing – it helps drive us to be motivated and perform within the workplace. However, the effects of prolonged or excessive stress can include, amongst others, insomnia, anger, decreased appetite, binge eating, withdrawal, obsessive thinking, anxiety, depression and even chronic health conditions such as type II diabetes and asthma.

From a business perspective, putting a driving force behind reducing work stressors will help not only the employees, but also the employers! Excessive stress has been proven to decrease work performance and lead to absenteeism which, in itself, causes more stress! This effects business productivity and increases financial strains to compensate for sick days.

It is therefore in a company’s best interests to develop and implement policies and procedures necessary to provide staff with the skills they need to self-manage the physical and psychological effects of stress. Here are a few ways to combat stress:

Stress Management Training

This is an easy and effective way to help reduce stress in employees and gain a good understanding as to where the stressors are occurring for the employers.

Take a break!

Studies have also shown taking a 5-minute break out of every hour, to walk around and get away from the computer, can help with reducing stress and increasing job performance.

Manage the time you have

Good time management skills will help prioritise work and help reduce stress. By completing tasks which are most necessary, will allow you to prevent feeling overwhelmed, and reduce the risk of the work following you home.

Leave work at work

Checking emails and working from home should be avoided where possible, to keep your home environment calm and relaxing.

Don’t stress alone

If you’re feeling stressed, it is best to share it with someone, who can help you work through it and guide you in the right direction to solve it.

Reducing stress will not only improve the health of our employees and create a better working environment, it will also increase productivity and business gains. It is therefore a win-win for everyone!

Less Stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voltedge Management

Is This the Job I Applied For?

Monday, August 27th, 2018

 

Hays Ireland recently published a report which said that 46% of employees who left a role within 12 months did so because the role did not meet their expectations.

The Hays survey of 1,800 workers showed that many specified that the job descriptions were misleading, the application process was poor; at interview stage they were not interviewed by their line manager, their interviewer was not prepared for the interview, the process and communication through the process was poor and then once on-board the promised training was not provided.  Another survey by Robert Walters found similar results in that 70% of workers believe they were misled at induction stage about the company culture.

Hays has said that 74% of employers plan to recruit in 2018, and of those 68% intend recruiting for permanent positions.  Given the considerable amount of effort it takes to find good candidates in the current market, the cost in terms of time and budget, why are companies not being smarter about their recruitment and on-boarding process?  This is a ‘lose-lose’ situation for both the employer and the employee.  Why not look for the person who is both a good match for and who also wants the role?  In the Robert Walters survey 61% of respondents said once ‘on-board’ they found that their responsibilities did not match the job description.

Focus on clear and simple job descriptions

Employers need to focus on writing clear and simple job descriptions, prioritising the tasks expected of the candidate on a daily basis.  If an employer is seeking a Data Entry Administrator, then state this clearly and explain that this is 90% of what the person’s time will be spent on. By making the role appear different or more complex they are potentially putting off a candidate who is genuinely seeking a Data Entry Administrator position and instead are hiring people who will be disappointed.

Examine the interview process

Next, employers need to examine the interview process.  First impressions count for the candidate as well as the employer. 64% of respondents to the Hays Ireland survey stated that they got a poor impression of an organisation at early interview stage because the organisation seemed unwelcoming.  Company culture is playing an increasing role in candidates’ decision making about joining an organisation.  So, what impression does your organisation give to visitors amongst whom are potential employees?

Some of these statistics do not come as a surprise to me personally, as someone who recently changed job and spent a number of months becoming a little wiser to the recruitment process.  I have first-hand experience of some of these issues.  I am pleased to say that since joining Voltedge Management I have observed how our HR Consultants guide and advise our clients in this regard so that they can avoid the pitfalls.

Roslyn Keogh, Project Manager

Talent and Recruitment

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Blue Insurance

Customer Service Executive

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

The Relocation Bureau

Relocation Coordinator

Voltedge Management

HR Consultant

Senior HR Business Consultant

Other

Property Administrator

Sales Account Manager

Voltedge News

Monday, August 27th, 2018

 

Joyce Rigby-Jones and Fredericka Sheppard, Co-founders and Managing Directors of Voltedge Management have been invited as special guests to attend this year’s graduation ceremony at the Kemmy Business School Awards at University of Limerick, to celebrate Gillian Murray receiving an award for Outstanding Performance.

Gillian worked with Voltedge as a 3rd year Business Studies undergraduate specialising in Human Resources, for her 9 month Coop Placement. We are thrilled that she has been recognised by the University and are honoured to be invited to join Gillian and her family as well as her University peers and lecturers on such a special occasion.

 

Voltedge Management

HR Brexit Update

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

It is widely accepted that companies need to begin planning for a ‘hard Brexit’, or even a ‘no-deal’ scenario.

A recent Ibec survey showed that over one in five companies already have contingency plans in place for Brexit, and just over half will have plans in place over the coming months. That still leaves 47% of the companies surveyed with no plan at all.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Summer Sizzles

Monday, July 16th, 2018

I’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to have to don the layers before getting on my bike to cycle my short journey to work every day.  My usual routine of wondering if I’m going to get soaked or blown off my bike has been replaced with spending that precious time in the morning slapping on the sunscreen and wondering if I can really cycle in a pair of flip flops!

Summer is certainly here, and aside from the drought like conditions – my grass is yellow, my paddling pool is dry and as for my plant pots – I am basking in the upsides of this unusual phenomenon we are experiencing.  A proper summer!

Have you noticed how happy we all are? It’s amazing the impact the weather has on our wellbeing and after suffering through the long dark, cold winter we are bounding around with energy and positivity that we never knew we had in us.  Well, when we’re not too hot of course. There are downsides too but I’m just going to focus on the upside for now and look at some of the benefits of the SUN.

1. Vitamin D, also known as the Sunshine Vitamin, is produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It has multiple roles in the body, helping to:

  • Maintain the health of bones and teeth particularly in infants, young children and the elderly.
  • Support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system.
  • Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes
  • Support lung function and cardiovascular health.
  • Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development.
  • Act as a mood enhancer helping to control depression
  • Aid weight loss through increased energy levels

2. Sunlight has a beneficial effect on skin disorders, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), sun exposure might help treat several skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, jaundice and acne.

3. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. Low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of major depression with seasonal pattern(SAD). This is a form of depression triggered by the changing seasons.

4. The heat of the sun can help reduce the pain caused by inflammatory conditions such as arthritis by warming up the body’s muscles and easing stiffness.

On top of all of these benefits, the warm sunny weather is encouraging people to get out, get active and get together.  We tend to eat healthier as the body craves fresh lighter foods such as salads and of course the occasional ice cream, all adds to an increase in our wellbeing.

I for one will be savouring these moments.  I do worry about the adverse effects, there is no doubt we will be paying a price for the current run of sunny weather as farmers struggle to maintain crop yields and manage livestock.  Let it rain at night!

Keep safe – Slip, Slop, Slap! Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

HR Brexit Update

Monday, July 16th, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brexit Secretary David Davis has quit, plunging Prime Minister Theresa May’s government into crisis.

Just two days after Theresa May appeared to have gotten her Cabinet behind her over Brexit, she now faces the biggest crisis of the past year. Mr Davis’s exit could embolden Brexiteer backbenchers with concerns over her leadership.

David Davis said the “career-ending” decision was a personal one but he felt the UK was “giving away too much and too easily” to the EU in the negotiations.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Project Management Services – “On Time and Within Budget”

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Organisations at any time can have a variety of in-house projects underway that require management and support.  Depending on the industry and business the process may vary. However, the overarching goal relates to the outcome that needs to be achieved. Whether it is bringing a new product to market, changing a process, solving a problem or introducing some new technology or process to achieve business efficiencies and provide better more informed data for management decisions – how the project is scoped, planned and managed is critical to the success of the outcomes.

Project Management

 

Voltedge Management has formed a team of expert Project Managers to support our clients with these needs to:

– Assist you with defining your project charter and mentor your in-house project team

– Develop your project plan and agree the project scope

– Outline the work to be performed

– Identify the resources needed and calculate a budget and schedule if required.

Essentially the Project Manager takes on the task of ensuring project success, delivering on time and within budget to the agreed charter. We are excellent at planning, executing and closing projects – by accurately defining the project scope, building a comprehensive work plan and managing the budget and milestones throughout.

We understand Stakeholder Management and Leadership, are capable decision makers and problem solvers, and can deal with risk and control – that’s why we add value to the process and ensure it gets delivered.

 

Whether it is project managing the introduction of a new Time and Attendance system, upgrading your HRIS, rolling out a new Project  Management Process, leading your GDPR Compliance Journey, or just supporting an In-house Project Management Team, our Project Managers have a broad range of knowledge and extensive experience across a number of industries and can bring real value to your inhouse projects success.

If you need a strategic thinker, with exceptional judgement, the ability to make sound decisions and be creative in developing alternative solutions in a fast-paced environment, and able to anticipate needs, balance the big picture with attention to detail, then get in touch and we can arrange an initial consultation with one of our Project Managers to explore best options for you and your business needs.

Email: info@voltedge.ie or call 00353 15252914

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, July 16th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: As this period of hot weather continues, what are my responsibilities as an employer?

A: The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 does not set out a maximum temperature for the workplace, only a minimum. However, there is an onus on employers to ensure the safety of their staff so it is important to provide a reasonable temperature in the workplace and exercise a common sense approach.

Q: What steps can I take to ensure the health and safety of my staff?

A: Think about shade and those employees who work directly beside windows. Rearranging furniture away from direct sunlight through windows can help. Glass does not protect against all of the suns rays. Think about additional fans in areas with no airflow and most importantly, encourage employees to stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water throughout the working day is vital. Encourage water breaks and allow for employees to get fresh air, stop overheating.

Q:  How can I keep staff motivated during periods of very hot weather?

A: As heat rises, so can absenteeism, commutes to work and a long day in a hot office can have an effect on employee motivation.  Think about relaxing the dress code, no ties, restrictive clothing, suit jackets or blazers. Turn off unnecessary lights, if the sun is streaming in, remember lights generate additional heat so turn some off. Be very mindful of those that work outside, ensuring both protection against the sun and also appropriate rest breaks for physical activity levels.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

GDPR News – Facebook Fined for Data Breach

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Last week it was announced that Facebook was fined €565,000 for data breach relating to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. There appears to be a mixed reaction to this news with many highlighting how small the fine is when compared to the net value of the company, estimated at over €500 bn.

An important aspect to this story is the timing of the breach. On 25th May 2018 the GDPR regulation came into force. This regulation introduces significant changes to the way companies gather, process and retain personal data with penalties of up to 4 % of the company annual turnover (or €20 million whichever is the higher) for data breach.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal however, occurred before these tougher penalties were brought in. If the same breach was identified today just five months after the this scandal was first exposed by the Guardian and the New York Times, the potential of the fine could have been €20 million.

This is a timely reminder to businesses that the GDPR is a significant legal change to the way companies use and retain personal data. If you need advice on your GDPR implementation strategy, get in touch with our GDPR project team at Voltedge Management, email us on compliance@voltedge.ie to speak to one of our experts.

Talent and Recruitment

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

AYLIEN

Data and Search Engineer

Blue Insurance

Customer Service Executive

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

Muscular Dystrophy Ireland (Part Time)

Family Support Worker

Respite Services and General Administrator

National Head of Services

PCO Manufacturing

General Operative

The Relocation Bureau

Relocation Coordinator

Voltedge Management

HR Consultant

Senior HR Business Consultant

Other

Junior Account Manager

Property Administrator

Sales Account Manager

 

News from the Courts – Dismissal of Employee Deemed Unfair

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Dismissal of employee who over-dosed on prescription drugs deemed unfair

A recent case, reported in IRN, where a general operative was sent home from work and subsequently dismissed, has been ruled by the Adjudication Officer (AO) of the Workplace Relations Commission to be unfair – due to lack of transparency and failure to follow a fair investigation and a lack of procedure before dismissal.

This employee arrived at work in an unsafe condition, and he didn’t tell his manager that he had taken his drugs over shorter periods than prescribed. Because of this, he was unfit for work. The employee had an injury and was taking prescribed medication for this injury. A decision to send the employee home was only taken after 2 hours in work, after returning from 18 weeks of sick leave.

The General Manager instigated a disciplinary investigation; however, no notes were provided to the employee and his union representative for the meetings held with witnesses, and some of the employee’s evidence was disregarded. Also, other incidents were included in the General Manager’s statement. The union representative was ‘in effect’ disregarded in the process, and the AO stated that the employee is entitled to a reasonable level of representation (citing the Lyons v Longford Westmeath ETB ruling).

The AO ruled that it was not good enough to just hold a disciplinary hearing and a subsequent appeal – and the employee was awarded half of his actual losses of €28,675.

This case again re-emphasises the necessity to follow best practice when undertaking a disciplinary investigation and to ensure transparency and fairness at all times, with the view that the employee is innocent until proven guilty.

Giving Effective Feedback to Employees

Monday, July 9th, 2018

In a series of articles on this topic we will be looking at how to give really effective feedback to employees in different situations and circumstances to enhance management engagement, communication and achieve real improvements or change in behaviour.

In this first article, we look at types of effective feedback and pull from Nora St-Aubin’s interesting article in an Officevibe blog post.

Employees WANT feedback – even in negative situations it is much better to give feedback than to ignore the issue, so managers need to have the tools in their management toolkit to effectively give feedback – no matter what.

According to  Gallup 2017 State of the American Workplace, “Employees are more likely to learn and grow when they receive immediate feedback that is specific, targeted at their development and able to be put into practice right away.”

Feedback to Employees

Reference: Sunil Subbramaniyam

The critical success in giving feedback is firstly ensuring that the employee knows and understands what they should be doing (clarity), that they have the tools, skills and experience to successfully do their work (enabling), and that they are given the scope to do the work (delegating and acting). Then, a manager can give honest, fair and constructive feedback at the right time. This whole process, as outlined above, generates trust and accountability. The only other critical issue is ensuring that the manager is able to set goals and then give appropriate feedback.

There are a number of different types of feedback:

  • General feedback: Often not effective as the feedback doesn’t relate to specific actions: e.g. ‘You are doing a good job.’ – what work does this refer to – is the employee good at everything or only some things? – it is too vague.
  • Negative feedback: Necessary in some circumstances but needs to be very specific in it’s application: e.g. ‘You did not achieve your sales results in that particular product category – here are the figures’. This is a fair comment – however always add on the action – ‘Let’s look at what can we do to resolve this and improve your performance.’
  • Constructive feedback: Specific feedback on details that can be helpful: e.g. ‘You came across as very negative at the team meeting – lets discuss this and see what the issue is’ rather than ‘You are always being negative – it’s very difficult for others to deal with’. Use words such as ‘I have a concern about’ or ‘I’d like to discuss when you …’ so that it is an opener to a discussion – not a stopper of conversation. Continue to draw out details by comments such as: ‘What do you think…’, or ‘Yes, that’s a good point. Can you explain why you couldn’t achieve…’
  • Positive feedback: Obviously when a manager says something really positive. Ideally this should be timely – as telling an employee they have done a great job 6 months after the project/sale has completed is a real opportunity lost. Always give prompt positive feedback, this can be informal (in passing conversation), formally at a meeting or a performance review, or by email. Positive feedback is most beneficial when it is face-to-face or in a meeting environment where the employee is then recognised by their manager and others.

In series 2 we will look at particular feedback opportunities for managers.

Voltedge Management

Workplace Investigations – Getting it Right!

Monday, June 18th, 2018

There has been plenty of high profile cases over the past 12-18 months, where employees are raising formal grievances on workplace issues or the behaviour of colleagues at work related events.

We have seen an increase in workplace grievances which can present significant challenges for organisations, especially for a small to medium size who may not have a dedicated HR function in place, or with limited expertise in conducting workplace investigations. Claims raised formally or informally under the company grievance procedure or claims under the equality and dignity in the workplace procedures, harassment, or bullying procedures, all require comprehensive management from the outset.

There is considerable case law in this area which can be a good reference for employees and employers, highlighting the importance of due process and fair procedure. The expectation is that an employer must ensure an investigation is conducted in a fair, reasonable, and transparent manner, providing all parties with an opportunity to put forward their views and respond to claims made during the investigation.

Here is a sample of some of the cases that have gone before the WRC and Labour Court:

“ The Employment Appeals Tribunal has awarded £7,000 to a former gardener under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, pointing that even where the facts are clear, an employer has a duty to follow due process before dismissing an employee….

A hotel reservation agency has been ordered to pay €5,000 to a former employee after the Equality Tribunal concluded that the firm discriminated against her on the grounds of her gender in the manner in which it handled her allegations of sexual harassment by a co-worker.

The Labour Court has proposed the use of an external investigator to assess a case in which a worker complained that his employer did not carry out a proper investigation of his bullying claimant.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has ruled that the leading Irish betting chain, Boylesports, should pay €7,000 in compensation to one of its former employees after it concluded that he was unfairly dismissed following a two day hearing. “

Very often these cases that end up in front of WRC or Labour Court result in the employer being told that that their process was flawed or that the company procedure was not followed objectivity, fairly or consistently.

It can be very beneficial to engage the services of an external party to conduct an investigation, ensuring it is independent and unbiased, and providing the employer with an opportunity to be removed from the details of the investigation and thus in a position to objectively review the investigators report and make an informed decision as to the appropriate course of action.

Voltedge Management has considerable experience of conducting workplace investigations, whether it is in an advisory capacity, or providing an independent investigator or supporting an informal process.

For a confidential discussion on related matter, please contact our Operations Manager Ingrid O’Sullivan at info@voltedge.ie or call the office on 01 525 2914 to speak to one of our senior consultants.

News from the Courts – “Reasonable Care” in a Health & Safety Claim by an Employee

Monday, June 18th, 2018

In a recent case an employee issued proceedings against his employer for an accident that occurred during the course of their job. The incident arose when the employee fell and injured his back, while taking a shortcut down a steep slope on his way back from doing a routine check of the reservoir manhole. There was an alternative route to reach the manhole with little or no incline, only 10 or 15 metres away, fact that was highlighted by the employer in their defence.

The employee in question had been with the organisation for some time and referenced other similar incidents of employees who had also slipped at the same area. However, there was no record of these having been reported to the company.

During the hearing there was no evidence found that suggested the company had required the employee to use the steep route, as well as a number of inconsistencies regarding medical examinations of the employee which brought the extent of his injuries into question.

The findings focused section s13 of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and made reference to a similar case where the same legal principles could be applied i.e. the application of common sense principles as to what amounts to reasonable care. The conclusion was that the employee had simply failed to take reasonable care for his own safety.

Voltedge Management can offer support, advice and independent investigators if required.  Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call the office on 01 5252914.

HR Brexit Update

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Simon Coveney TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, updated prominent business and political leaders from across the UK and Ireland on the Government’s current approach to Brexit negotiations at the Chamber’s annual networking dinner on Wednesday 30 May.

The dinner brought together 450 influential figures from the worlds of business, investment and politics to hear the keynote speech by the Tánaiste and an update from Eoin O’Neill, President of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce as to how businesses can mitigate risks associated with the current uncertainty in Brexit talks.

Addressing the dinner, Simon Coveney TD, said: “Thanks to the work of businesses like those represented here, our trading relationship is thriving – and this Government continues to do everything in its power to ensure that this remains the case. The UK has always been our one of closest partners, and we hope to continue this strong relationship after Brexit. Ireland has been clear in our position that a positive relationship between the EU and the UK, and between Ireland and the UK, is in all of our interests. A prosperous Britain is good for Ireland, and indeed vice versa. It is this firmly-held belief that informs our approach to the Brexit negotiations.”

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, June 18th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: Am I legally required to provide a reference to an ex-employee?
A: No, there is no general requirement in law or legislation that you must provide a reference. If you do provide a reference, you have a duty of care to both the subject of the reference and to anyone that might rely on it.

Q: By when must you legally provide an employee with their written terms of employment?
A: The Terms of Employment (information) Acts 1994-2014 provide that an Employer is obliged to provide an Employee with a written statement of terms of Employment within the first two months of commencement of employment.

Q: What happens if changes are made to the particulars contained in the written statement?
A: An employer must notify an employee of any changes to the particulars within one month after the change takes effect. It should be noted that this does not entitle an employer to unilaterally change the terms in the statement, and of course any changes must be agreed with the individual.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

Sitting is the New Smoking

Monday, June 11th, 2018

 

You have probably heard this headline and thought like most of us “seriously?” but on digging deeper it does seem to have some truth behind it. A scary thought if like me you are working in a sedentary job and enjoy the odd bit of TV too in the evening!

The line was coined by Dr James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic in the US who in an interview with the LA Times said “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. The chair is out to kill us.”

The health risks associated with sitting all day include heart disease, various types of cancer, obesity, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and increased blood pressure. This is really worrying as more and more people are working longer hours at their desks, commuting in cars, trains or busses, then collapsing down in front of the TV before going to bed, on a regular basis.

So, what can we do to combat this, and what can employers do to help their employees live longer?

I’ve decided to take action and sign up for an initiative in our workplace to try out a standing desk. I’m excitedly awaiting its arrival and discovering the benefits of spending at least some of my day standing.  It’s a bit hard to imagine how it will all work – do I stand for an hour then sit for an hour? Will moving my laptop and stuff be a deterrent or just become part of my more active lifestyle? Will I need to change my shoes for the standing bit? How soon will I see results?

Standing desks are becoming more and more popular with many organisations having them as a standard option. In Denmark the government has mandated that all office workers must have a height adjustable desk and hopefully this will be rolled out to other countries including Ireland in the future. Unfortunately, they can be expensive so like my workplace, people are getting creative in developing and making their own versions!

Of course, there are other ways to combat sitting all day but they take more effort. Employers should be encouraging employees to get up from their desks, take breaks at lunchtime, walk to and talk to colleagues instead of emailing, stand up when on the phone, but we all know how easy it is to get stuck into work and end up stuck to your seat.

It’s a little ironic that Sitting is the new Smoking, considering it’s the smokers who get up off their seats more than anyone else!

Updates on my Standing Desk experience will follow.

 

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

7 Key Values for HR from Dave Ulrich  

Monday, June 11th, 2018

 

CIPD held its Irish HR Conference on 22nd May 2018 in Croke Park – the keynote speaker was Dave Ulrich – an outstanding Guru of HR, international speaker, Professor of Business at the University of Michigan, prodigious author.

Dave has fundamentally changed the way HR works over the last 30 plus years. Dave’s speech was about ‘enabling actions for HR to lead the delivery of the people agenda’.  He also talked about the 7 things that create more value for HR:

1.Value is itself defined more by the receiver than the giver.

Good leadership is not about the leader, it’s about what the leader creates by listening, and ‘listening is not that you understand, it’s that the other person feels understood’. Find out from your business leader what they are worried about, and then decide how HR can add value.

2.The value we create is outside as well as inside.

Challenge the thinking that HR is internal, it’s both! Employee experience without customer experience is only partial HR, look at the customers, investors, the wider community, regulators and partners. Engage the customer, don’t do a 360-performance review, do a 720.

3.Three questions HR should ask:

  1. Do we have the right talent?
  2. Do we have the right leadership?
  3. Do we have the right culture?

Organisational culture is extremely important. Do our people have a sense of wellbeing and growth so that they can be agile? With all the talk of culture in HR discourse, for me, Dave gave a great definition: culture is the ability to shift from an event to a pattern and ultimately to an identity. Culture is not who we are as a company, but what we want to be known for by our customers.

4.Use digital HR

Utilise digital data to win! We need to be innovative in the digital space.

5.Design a great HR department

Focus on relationships more than roles.

6.Build the right HR competencies. Focus on outcomes.

7.Make line managers owners; support them in doing so, ‘line managers are CRITICAL in delivery of value’.

 

Voltedge Management

Talent and Recruitment

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

 

Nicholas O’Dwyer

In-house Recruitment Specialist

 

ONSIDE

Head of Research and Intelligence

Research and Intelligence Manager

 

The Relocation Bureau

Relocation Coordinator

 

Voltedge Management

HR Consultant

 

Other

Property Administrator

Voltedge News

Monday, May 21st, 2018

In line with the new Data Privacy and Protection requirements under GDPR regulations, Voltedge Management has published our Privacy Statement, a copy of which can be found on our website.

Privacy Statement

About

We respect your right to privacy and take seriously our responsibilities in relation to the processing of personal data. We do not collect or process personal data unnecessarily.

This privacy statement sets out important information about your rights in relation to the processing of your personal data, and the basis on which any personal data we collect from you, or that you provide to us, will be processed in connection with your use of our website and our services.

Under this policy, we adhere to the principles of the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (the “GDPR”) of the personal data you provide to us.

What information do we collect about you?

We collect information about you when you instruct us to provide advice; visit our website; subscribe to our newsletters or to receive our publications; apply for employment with us; attend one of our seminars; and engage in business dealings with us.

The information you give us during your dealings with us may include:

  • Identity Data: your full name, address, e-mail address, phone number, address, age, identification, title and personal description.
  • Financial Data: your financial, including bank account details, billing contact email address and VAT number.

The information we automatically collect about you:

When you visit our website, a record of your visit is made. That data is used completely anonymously, to determine the number of people who visit our website and the most frequently used sections of the site. This enables us to continually update and refine the site. If you use any forms on the website to send an email to us, a record will also be made of your email address and your telephone number.

No special categories of personal data

We do not require or collect any personal data that is your sensitive personal data or any special category of personal data under the GDPR, unless you decide to provide this information to us.

Cookies

We do not currently use Cookies on our website.

Where is the information stored?

We store information in several different ways, some may be physical in which case it is stored securely in access-controlled areas within our offices, or electronically in which case we utilise the services of cloud server providers which are currently based within the EEA.

We endeavour to ensure these providers comply with the regulations and best practices of Data Protection and Privacy.

How will we use the information about you?

We will only use your personal information when the law allows us to. Most commonly, we will use your personal data in the following circumstances:

  • Where we need to perform the contract, we are about to enter or have entered with you.
  • Where it is necessary for our legitimate interest (or those of a third party) and your interests and fundamental rights do not override those interests.
  • Where we need to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation.

We have set out below, in table format, a description of the ways we utilise your personal data and the legal basis for doing so. We have also identified our legitimate interests where appropriate:

Purpose/Activity

Legal basis for processing

To respond to your queries and to provide you with the information you request from us in relation to our Services. – Necessary for our legitimate interests (to respond to new or existing customer queries and grow our business)
– Performance of a contact with you
– Necessary to comply with a legal obligation
To provide our Services to you. – Necessary for our legitimate interests (to respond to new or existing customer queries and grow our business)
– Performance of a contract with you
– Necessary to comply with a legal obligation
To manage payments, fees and charges and to collect and recover money owed to us. – Performance of a contract with you
– Necessary for our legitimate interests (to recover debts due to us)
– Necessary to comply with a legal obligation
To manage our relationship with you, including notifying you about changes to our Services or our Privacy Policy. – Performance of a contract
– Necessary to comply with a legal obligation
– Necessary for our legitimate interests (to keep our records updated and to study how customers use our products and services).
To provide you with information about services we offer that are like those that you have enquired about. Necessary for our legitimate interests (to develop our products or Services and grow our business)
Where you have given us your consent to do so, to provide you with information about other services we feel may interest you. Consent
To ensure that content is presented in the most effective manner for you and for your computer or device. Necessary for our legitimate interests (to keep our Site and the Services updated and relevant and to develop and grow our business).
To administer and protect our business, our Site and for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research, statistical and survey purposes. Necessary for our legitimate interests (for running our business and as part of our efforts to keep our Site and the Services safe and secure).
To use data analytics to improve or optimise our Site, marketing, customer relationships and experiences. Necessary for our legitimate interests (to define types of customers for our products and services, to keep our Site and the Services updated and relevant, to develop and grow our business and inform our marketing strategy).
To measure or understand the effectiveness of advertising we serve to you and others, and, where applicable, to deliver relevant advertising to you. Necessary for our legitimate interests (to study how customers use our products or Services, to develop them, to grow our business and to inform our marketing strategy).

Change of purpose

We will only use your personal data for the purposes for which we collected it, unless we reasonably consider that we need to use it for another reason and that reason is compatible with the original purpose. If you wish to get an explanation as to how the processing for the new purpose is compatible with the original purpose, please contact us at compliance@voltedge.ie. If we need to use your personal data for an unrelated purpose, we will notify you and we will explain the legal basis which allows us to do so. Please note that we may process your personal data without your knowledge or consent, in compliance with this Policy, where this is required or permitted by law.

How long we keep your information

We will only retain your personal data for as long as necessary to fulfil the purposes we collected it for, including for the purposes of satisfying any legal, accounting, or reporting requirements. This means that the period for which we store your personal data may depend on the type of data we hold. To determine the appropriate retention period for personal data, we consider the amount, nature, and sensitivity of the personal data, the potential risk of harm from unauthorised use or disclosure of your personal data, the purposes for which we process your personal data and whether we can achieve those purposes through other means, and the applicable legal requirements. For more information about our data retention policies please contact us at compliance@voltedge.ie.

Will we disclose your data?

We do not sell your personal information to third parties for marketing purposes. We may disclose information to third parties if you consent to us doing so as well as in the following circumstances:

You agree that we have the right to share your personal information with the following recipients or categories of recipients:

  • Any department or authorised person within our company.
  • Selected third parties including:
    • business partners, suppliers and sub-contractors for the performance of any contract we enter with them or you in relation to our Services;
    • analytics and search engine providers that assist us in the improvement and optimisation of our Site;

We will disclose your personal information to third-party recipients:

  • in the event that we sell or buy any business or assets, in which case we will disclose your personal data to the prospective seller or buyer of our business or assets.
  • if Voltedge or substantially all of its assets are acquired by a third party, in which case personal data held by it about its customers will be one of the transferred assets.
  • if we are under a duty to disclose or share your personal data in order to comply with any law, legal obligation or court order, or in order to enforce rights under the GDPR or other agreements.
  • to protect our rights, property or safety, our customers, or others. This includes exchanging information with other companies and organisations for the maintenance and security of the Site and Services.

International Transfers

Personal Data may be transferred to our trusted partners and service providers who maintain their servers outside of the European Economic Area (“EEA”), where the privacy and data protection laws may not be as protective as those in your jurisdiction. This is only for the purposes of providing, and to the extent necessary to provide our Services to you. There are special requirements set out under Chapter V of the GDPR (with which we would comply) to regulate such data transfers and ensure that adequate security measures are in place to safeguard and maintain the integrity of your personal data on transfer.
For more information about this and the safeguards in place relating to the transfer, please contact us by email at compliance@voltedge.ie.

Security Measures

We take our Data Security responsibilities seriously, employing the most appropriate physical and technical measures necessary, including staff awareness and training on Data Awareness and Privacy. We have put in place appropriate security measures to prevent your personal data from being accidentally lost, used or accessed in an unauthorised way, altered or disclosed.

Although we endeavour to safeguard your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of data transmitted to us by means of email, or any such transmission of electronic data. In addition, we limit access to your personal data to those employees, agents, contractors and other third parties who have a business need to know. They will only process your personal data on our instructions and they are subject to a duty of confidentiality.

We have put in place procedures to deal with any suspected personal data breach and will notify you and any applicable regulator of a breach where we are legally required to do so.

Your Personal Data and your Right

Accessing your Personal Data

Under article 15 of the GDPR you have a right to request a copy of the information that we hold about you. If you would like a copy of some or all of your personal information please email compliance@voltedge.ie. or write to Voltedge Management Limited, Suite 9, The Old Station House, 15a Main Street, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. We will need to verify your identity and may request more information or clarifications from you to help us locate and provide you with the personal data requested.

Other Data Subject Rights

In compliance with the GDPR we will respond to requests from Data Subjects in relation to the following rights:

  • The right to rectification (Article 16 & 19 of the GDPR)
  • The right to erasure / the right to be forgotten (Article 17 & 19 of the GDPR)
  • The right to data portability (Article 20 of the GDPR)
  • The right to object (Article 21 of the GDPR)
  • The right of restriction (Article 18 of the GDPR)
  • Rights in relation to automated decision making, including profiling (Article 22 of the GDPR)

The rights listed above are personal rights and are exercisable only by the individual person (or data subject) concerned. To exercise any of these rights, at any time, please email compliance@voltedge.ie.

Marketing Communications

We will not use your data to send marketing communications to you about promotions, competitions, updates and new products or services that may be of interest to you, unless we have your permission to do so.

Your right to amend or object.
You have the right to amend or object to the processing of your personal data for our marketing purposes. To amend or object or if you change your mind at any later time, you can withdraw your consent to the processing of your personal data for such marketing purposes by contacting us at compliance@voltedge.ie.. You may also opt out of receiving marketing communications at any time by selecting the unsubscribe option when you receive an electronic marketing communication from us. The withdrawal of your consent will not impact upon the lawfulness of processing based on your consent prior to the withdrawal.

Other Websites

Our website may contain links to other sites and any external links will be identifiable as such. This privacy policy only applies to this website so when you link to other websites you should read their own privacy policy.

Changes to this Statement

Please review the website regularly as this statement may change from time to time.

Questions or Complaints

If you have any questions about our privacy statement or information we hold about you, please contact:

Voltedge Management Limited
Suite 9,
The Old Station House,
15a Main Street,
Blackrock,
County Dublin.

T: +353 (0)1 525 2914
E: compliance@voltedge.ie.

We are committed to complying with the terms of the GDPR and to the processing of personal data in a fair, lawful and transparent manner. If, however, you believe that we have not complied with our obligations under the GDPR, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

Prepare for GDPR Requirements

Monday, May 21st, 2018

With only days to go for the GDPR implementation date, we are seeing an increase in demand for HR Consultancy services. But do these actions offer HR an opportunity to encourage a more protective and open environment for employees to raise data privacy issues?

While there is much speculation and debate on the deterrents of non-compliance to GDPR (particularly the heavy fines which may be incurred) there appears to be little on its opportunities.  Will companies use this regulation to create a culture through their policies, employee handbooks and procedures which encourages employees to make data breach disclosures or will the emphasise be on the consequences of disciplinary action for such a breach thus creating a culture where they remain “hidden” until it is too late to take remedial action?

GDPR requires a fundamental change in how personal data is managed. Data breach reporting  is just one example where  the increased accountability and transparency requirements of the regulation require employee support in order to be successful.

We are currently working with a number of organisations, from micro businesses of just a handful of employees to SME’s of 100+ employees, assisting them to take the necessary steps on the GDPR compliance journey.

HR has a significant role to play to ensure personal data of their employees is gathered and stored in the correct manner.

We also provide full GDPR Project Management support for companies, do get in touch with us and we can arrange a scoping meeting. For more information on what action you need to take, contact us on info@voltedge.ie or phone 01 5252914, our GDPR expert team of Project Managers can assist you.

Mental Health Month

Friday, May 18th, 2018

May is Mental Health Month and every year Mental Health Ireland supports the See Change’s Green Ribbon Campaign.  The international symbol for mental health awareness, the green ribbon campaign promotes positive mental health along with initiatives and supports.  There are numerous events taking place around the country with the main focus on the Talk & Walk initiative which in partnership with the IFA, Coilte, SeeChange and Mental Health Ireland are organised walks encouraging people to take a break go for a walk and talk!

A list of walks and events available here.

We all go through difficult episodes throughout our lives, and we all have different ways of dealing with the emotions and feelings associated with those events. Many people live with a mental health illness that is kept hidden for fear of stigma or discrimination. Recent campaigns including this months Green Ribbon are trying to change how we view mental health and encourage people to seek help. We have no issue with getting regular check ups at the dentist and doctor.  Mental health should be no different, we need to keep it checked too.

Often it’s the little things that can have an enormous impact.  Here are some little reminders to help in times of need.

Mental Health Month

 

Mental Health Month

 

Mental Health Month

 

You can order printed poster and postcard packs at HealthPromotion.ie.  Having posters displayed in the workplace promoting awareness will encourage employees to be more open and share their issues with you if there is a culture of openness and honesty.

 Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager, Voltedge Management

News from the Courts

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Managing complaints when an employee is out sick – €17,500 awarded to an ex-employee.

In a recent ruling by the Labour Court (as outlined in IRN), a compensation payment of €17,500 was awarded to an ex-employee of a company.

The employee had experienced some difficulties in the workplace and, following two meetings with the Directors of the company in March 2015, the employee had gone on extended sick leave for up to 6 months with a medical certificate stating workplace related stress. The employee – through his solicitors – then invoked the company’s bullying and harassment policy and requested that an investigation be initiated.

The company responded by stating that they would wait for the employee to return to work, and which stage it would ‘discuss any issues you may have, in line with your contract of employment’.

The employee again requested that the policy request be activated. There was no further response from the company and the employee resigned with immediate effect on 10th June 2015.

Although there were several issues with the employee’s performance at work, the employee claims that he made repeated informal complaints of bullying and harassment.

The Court concluded that no investigation was ever undertaken and that certain claims made by the company at the hearing had never been put to the employee when he was in employment.

Because no investigation was instigated (in any form), the Labour Court viewed it reasonable for the employee to resign and effectively take constructive dismissal.

This is a very important judgement which establishes that it is not enough for a company to just wait for the return of an employee who has made an official bullying complaint. Employers need to be pro-active and – at the very least – plan for a complaint to be heard on the return of the employee from sick leave. Other employment issues cannot override the employer’s approach to an employee who makes a bullying complaint and should be treated as separate issues.

Voltedge Management can offer support, advice and independent investigators if required.  Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call the office on 01 5252914.

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, May 14th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: When should I report an accident at work to the HSA?

A: The HSA must be notified of all: 1) fatal work-related accidents 2) accidents causing injury that result in the person carrying out work being absent from work or being unable to carry out his/her normal duties, for more than three consecutive days 3) accidents caused as a result of work or work activity, which result in a person who is not at work (a member of the public), suffering a fatal injury or an injury that requires hospital treatment or the attention of a doctor.

Q: When I am calculating three consecutive days, do I consider the weekend?

A: Yes, weekends and other normal days off (such as holidays) are included when calculating the period of absence following an accident.

Q: What is the Health and Safety Authorities’ role in relation to bullying?

A: Bullying has been identified as a safety issue, which means that when an HSA inspector is carrying out a workplace inspection, he/she will examine a business’s safety statement to ensure that the issue of bullying is dealt with. The HSA may also investigate a bullying claim in the workplace.

Q: Do we have to have a trained first aider in the business?

A: Yes. Employers are required by law to designate occupational first-aiders at the workplace as are necessary. The number depends on the size of the business and the findings of a risk assessment. You can find out how many are required in your Business here.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Kate Siberry, HR Executive, Voltedge Management

HR Brexit Update

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Are Irish Companies actively engaged in Brexit planning?

In a recent survey conducted by IBEC, the main findings show that a large majority of companies are now actively engaged in Brexit planning – which is good news.

  • 21% of the 176 respondents have contingency plans in place,
  • Over 53% stating that they will have plans in place over the coming months.
  • However – the focus is very much on the commercial and distribution aspect, with companies concerned about customs and certification barriers – 32% identified this as a top concern, future regulatory divergence (13%) and exchange rate volatility (13%).

With regard to employees, nearly 50% of the companies expect shortages in foreign language and culture awareness, with 44% of these planning to address these gaps through external recruitment. 67% stated that EU worker access is important.

Voltedge Management works with our clients to review the impact of Brexit on recruitment, employment, employee management and skills and culture issues, and we will be hosting an event focused on this in September with our event partners, Morgan McKinley, Fragomen, Ronan Daly Jermyn and European Movement Ireland. If you would like to attend this session, just let us know at info@voltedge.ie and we will put you on the invitation list.

Talent and Recruitment

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

Nicholas O’Dwyer

In-House Recruitment Specialist

ONSIDE

Head of Research and Intelligence

Research and Intelligence Manager

The Relocation Bureau

Relocation Coordinator

ThinScale Technology

Software Engineer – C#

Voltedge Management

HR Consultant

 

Other: 

First Notifications Claims Handler

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, April 16th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

With the summer (hopefully) and the May bank holiday approaching soon, here are some questions and answers to consider:

Q: Can an employee request a two-week unbroken leave period?

A: Yes, provided they have worked for at least 8 months they are entitled to an unbroken period of 2 weeks’ annual leave.

Q:  What happens if an employee is sick on a public holiday?

A: If you are a fulltime worker who is on certified sick leave during a public holiday, you are entitled to benefit for the public holiday you missed. If you are a part-time worker on certified sick leave during a public holiday, you would be entitled to time off work for the public holiday provided you worked for your employer at least 40 hours in the previous 5-week period.

However, you are not entitled to the public holiday if you are absent from work immediately before the public holiday and you have been off work for more than 26 weeks due to an ordinary illness or accident, or for more than 52 weeks due to an occupational accident.

Q: If an employee comes back from their annual leave and produces a sick cert from their doctor what do I do?

A: If an employee becomes ill during their annual leave and provides a medical cert for the days they were ill, these sick days will not be counted as annual leave days. You cannot require an employee to take annual leave for a certified period of illness.

Q: If an employee is off work on certified sick days, are they still accruing annual leave days?

A: An amendment to the Workplace Relations Act 2015 made changes to how statutory annual leave is managed when an employee is on certified sick leave. These changes took effect on 1 August 2015 and include:

  • An employee’s annual statutory leave entitlement continues to build up during a period of certified sick leave.
  • An employee, who due to illness cannot take annual leave during the relevant leave year or the normal carryover period of 6 months, is entitled to an extended carryover period of 15 months after the leave year to take their accrued annual leave.
  • If an employee leaves their job they are entitled to payment in lieu for any annual leave that accrued and was untaken as a result of illness. This payment in lieu only applies if you leave your employment up to 15 months after the end of the leave year during which the statutory leave entitlement accrued.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Kate Siberry, HR Executive, Voltedge Management

Haattchooo – It’s Allergy Season

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Haattchooo… we’ll be starting to hear that sound more and more in the coming weeks as allergy season arrives.  For some people this time of year can be truly miserable – sneezing, wheezing, watery eyes – and it doesn’t bode well for a productive day at work.  Allergies are one of the top reasons for absenteeism particularly, at this time of year.  It’s therefore important for employers to understand the ways to reduce the trigger factors and minimise the effect on sufferers in the workplace.

It’s easy for allergens such as dust mites, pollens and moulds – which are the most common triggers – to get trapped in office buildings.  Carpets, soft furnishings and cluttered desks can be hives of activity!

So what can you do to help those haatchoooers?

  1. Dust away those dust mites

Dust mites are commonly found in the home and the eggs can easily be transported into the work environment on clothes, quickly making themselves a new home at work.  Regular carpet cleaning and dusting the work area with a microfiber cloth or wet rag can help to reduce the mites in the area.  Curtains should be washed frequently and if possible coats and jackets should be hung outside of the office space.

  1. Breath easy

Ensure there is clean filtered air circulating the work environment to help reduce pollen and allergens.  For hay fever sufferers this is vital, particularly at this time of the year. Make sure that windows are kept closed in the early morning and late afternoon which is when the pollen count peaks.

  1. Cleaning products

Many cleaning products including air fresheners release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air which can irritate the lungs causing breathing difficulties.  If possible, use cleaning materials that are VOC free and avoid any use of plug-in and aerosol air fresheners.

  1. Allergy testing

It can be a good idea to have employees take an allergy test if many are presenting themselves with symptoms.  The cause can be identified and steps taken to help minimise exposure. For example, if the results show a high reaction to mould it may be that you have an underlying problem that needs addressing that you weren’t aware of.  Often allergy sufferers believe they are allergic to one thing when in fact it is something completely different that is setting them off.

  1. Support the Haattchoooers

Allergy sufferers really do suffer! Supporting them by simply ensuring there are plenty of tissues available, providing sympathy, empathy and understanding can go a long way. They are less likely to be absent from work if their needs are being met and addressed and the haattchoooing isn’t seen as an annoyance.

Spring is delightful time of year, even if it is a little late arriving, unfortunately though for some it’s not such a welcome relief from the long winter!

 

 Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager, Voltedge Management

How Can Companies Become GDPR Compliant – In a Nutshell

Monday, April 16th, 2018

With only 6 weeks to go before the GDPR regulations come into force ie on the 25th May 2018, how do companies set about meeting their obligations as employers, suppliers and clients?

Here in Ireland, we have been managing data already through the current EU Data Protection Directive, but yet very few companies understand the GDPR requirements or even if they are data processors or data controllers.

With so much in the news about personal data and data breaches globally in the last few weeks, this question is one all companies are asking themselves. But how do companies know if it will affect them, and what it is they need to do to ensure they are compliant with the regulations?

In summary, here are the six “How”principles of GDPR (Article 5) setting out how personal data shall be processed:

  1. Lawfulness, fairness and transparency
  2. Purpose limitation
  3. Data minimisation
  4. Accuracy
  5. Storage limitation
  6. Integrity and confidentiality

And the six legal bases for processing data (Article 6) which means businesses must have a lawful reason for processing personal data. So to process the data you need to meet one or more of the following legal bases:

  1. Consent
  2. For the performance of a contract
  3. Compliance with a legal obligation
  4. Vital interests
  5. Public interest
  6. Legitimate interests, unless this overrides the individual’s rights and interests

We understand that this is challenging, and the specifics of the new regulations are not easy to get to grips with. At Voltedge Management we have developed a GDPR team, pooling HR expertise, GDPR expertise and Project Management expertise, and have designed a Project Management GDPR Model for employers. We are now in a position to lead out your GDPR Compliance project, identifying clear comprehensive steps and milestones you need to take in order to becoming GDPR compliant.

Give us a call on 01 5252914 or email us on info@voltedge.ie and we’d be delighted to talk to you about how we can help you on your GDPR journey.

 

Voltedge Management

Talent Acquisition – Current Roles Available for Our Clients

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

 

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

 

Dun Laoghaire Dental

Practice Manager – Dental Surgery

 

Joseph Walsh Studio

 Artistic Directors Executive Assistant

Office Manager

 

ONSIDE

Head of Research and Intelligence

Research and Intelligence Manager

 

SmartFactory

Technical Sales Engineer

 

The Relocation Bureau

Relocation Coordinator

 

ThinScale Technology

Software Engineer – C#

 

Voltedge Management

HR Consultant

HR Brexit Update – Brexit Guide

Monday, April 16th, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

European Movement Ireland have compiled a list of the top 100 Brexit-related terms and translated them into clear and digestible language. The guide’s aim is to provide definitions of the words that dominate the Brexit discourse and act as a handy resource to help in deciphering the complexities of Brexit.

VIEW GUIDE HERE.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

News from the Courts

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Clarification for employers on the payment of paternity leave at a recently WRC hearing

In a case that was heard at the WRC recently where a male employee claimed discrimination on the grounds of gender when his employer did not provide a top up payment when he took his 2 weeks paternity leave but did provide a top up payment of female employees who took maternity leave, the WRC found that employers were not required to provide a top up payment as paternity leave was not comparable to maternity leave.

In reaching this decision, the WRC reviewed both the Irish and European legislation that provided for maternity leave and clarified that it was specifically designed for females on the basis of pregnancy and maternity at this very special time and that paternity leave was a different leave category, therefore employers can have a different term for payment for female employees on that basis.

However, if employers have already introduced company paid paternity leave, this finding does not mean that they can now stop paying male employees as they had already established this policy in advance of this hearing.

It is possible that there may be additional cases relating to this matter and that this matter might well become a topic for debate in the future but for now, the position has been clarified in that maternity leave and paternity leave are viewed differently by the WRC and therefore employers can apply payment terms differently.

 

Voltedge Management

How to Avoid Bias in Recruitment and Management

Monday, April 16th, 2018

 

Do you think you are fair when you interview applicants for a position, or when you review your current employees at their performance review?

The Centre for Talent Innovation in UK has identified 3 factors which help create an inclusive environment where people regardless of background or identity, feel supported to achieve their potential at work. These were identified in employer organisations whose employees felt included and not discriminated in any way:

  • Inclusive leadership: Having team leader who encourage people to speak up and ensure that everyone’s view is heard. Inclusive leaders create an environment where people feel comfortable presenting ideas, and they also empower team members to make decisions.
  • Diverse Leadership: Having people in the top positions who are from a mix of backgrounds including race, gender and age
  • Sponsorship: Senior leaders sponsor and support a diverse range of people

How can this benefit your organisation? This research showed that employees at large companies with an inclusive leader were 87% less likely to perceive a mismatch in how their superiors and they themselves would rate their potential, and they were 39% more likely to say they felt engaged at work.

Those working at companies with a diverse leadership were found to be 64% less likely to perceive a bias in judgment of their potential.

(How to keep perceived bias from holding back high-potential employees, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Ripa Rashi and Laura Sherbin, Strategy+Business, Winter 2017)

 

Voltedge Management

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The number of EU workers actively searching for jobs in the UK has fallen by more than 11% since the referendum in June 2016.

Fall in UK of job searches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Voltedge Management – HR Awards and Female Entrepreneurship

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Last week, while celebrating International Women’s Day and the many achievements women have made down through the generations, our two enterprising founders Joyce and Fredericka were in attendance at the annual HR Leadership and Management Awards 2018 celebrating the success achieved by Voltedge Management, the HR Consulting company they founded in 2011. Incredibly Voltedge Management were shortlisted as finalists in 5 different categories this year, one of the most nominated companies in the awards ceremony.

We feel privileged to be in a position to work with some amazing organisations and innovative leaders across all sectors and to bring both thought leadership and expertise to them in the form of transformational interventions for their teams – through our Leadership and Management Development programmes, our Employee Engagement interventions, the development and management of Talent Acquisition initiatives that enable our clients to grow and expand their businesses, as well as advising and supporting ongoing developments of workplace environments that nurture and mentor staff, create career progression opportunities and build high performing teams.

We continue to develop leading HR services for the SME market place and work alongside HR departments in larger organisations supporting them with strategic interventions and helping them to be successful. Our team has grown over the past number of years and we are now very well positioned to provide services and supports across the full HR suite from recruitment, performance management, leadership and management development, coaching, employee relations, employee engagement, and a comprehensive list of workshops in our training and development unit. We are also growing our GDPR team of expertise, to support our clients with their GDPR needs.

We extend a big THANK YOU, to our CONSULTANTS for their outstanding professionalism and commitment to the work we do, to our CLIENTS for engaging us to support them with the valued assets – their employees, and to the team at HR Leadership and Management Awards, for recognising our commitment to high standards and innovation in delivering HR to our clients. Its been another great year and we look forward to the rest of 2018 with enthusiasm and ambition to continue to do what we do best – be the HR PARTNER OF CHOICE TO OUR CLIENTS.

Voltedge Management

Wellbeing from the Top Down

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

 

It’s all very well for an employer to implement wellbeing initiatives and think great I’ve ticked that box off without really investing themselves in it.  There are many subtle and impactful ways for managers to support employee wellbeing that don’t need to be highly resourceful, time consuming or costly.

From when we were very small children all we wanted was to be told what a great job we were doing, whether that was simply tidying away our toys at the end of the day to doing well at school.  As adults in the workplace it is no different. Praise makes us feel good, empowered and happy.

Here are some relatively simple ways for employers to do that:

Get to know your employees

Set up some 1:1 time with your team members on a regular basis.  Listen to them, ask them how they are getting on, and encourage new ideas and thinking. Engage with them on a personal level as well, ask how their family is, how their local soccer team is doing or how they enjoyed an event. Make them feel like you are genuinely interested in them not just as an employee.

Be a leader and set an example

If you have implemented a ‘let’s get walking’ initiative at lunchtime make sure you get walking too. Employees will feel more motivated and encouraged if they see their manager do it and will feel it’s ok to take a break.  Let them know your wellbeing goals and how you plan to achieve them.

Recognise their work

It takes very little at the end of a day to say thank you and well done for work completed or getting through a stressful busy day.  However, your employee will leave work feeling like it was all worth it and motivated to do it again tomorrow.  Rather than going home feeling worn out and stressed, they will feel satisfied of a good day’s work.

Training and development

Invest in your team and watch them grow.  Putting in place personal development plans will provide a clear path for career progression and further learning.  It doesn’t have to big budget training courses. Cross-functional activities or an opportunity to work on new projects can provide peer to peer learning, which is a great way to develop skills and confidence levels.

Be mental health aware

It’s one of the biggest reasons for absenteeism and is often disguised as something else due to embarrassment or lack of confidence.  Managers who are open about mental health issues, who encourage their team to talk about it and assist in getting help or simply encourage some time off will ultimately reduce the number of incidences through this positive approach.

Have some fun

Introduce some fun initiatives to encourage employees to engage with each other.  Bake offs, last Friday of the month pizza day, Love Monday coffees, raise money for a charity with a sponsored walk, there are lots of things you can do that don’t have to take up too much time or cost.  Ask your employees for ideas, have a vote on the best one and run it for a few months.

Wellbeing in work and in life is about keeping stress at bay, being happy, feeling worthy and respected. It can be done!

 Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager, Voltedge Management

The 2018 CIPD Ireland Student Conference

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

This year’s CIPD Ireland Student Conference was focused around Empowering the Next Generation of Hr Leaders. Chair, Dave Barry, Director Talent & Transformation at Fastnet-The Talent Group and Mary Connaughton, Director of CIPD Ireland introduced the topic and shared some valuable insights and trends in HR Practices in Ireland today.

The CIPD HR Practices in Ireland Survey 2018:

  • Top three external drivers for Change: 1. Labour Market and Skills *way ahead of the other two* 2. Brexit and 3. Change and 24/7 economy.
  • Mary discussed how we are getting there in terms of gaining a strategic seat at the table, 71% of organisations now see HR at a senior level, playing a strategic part in the Business.
  • The top HR priorities over the next two years are Employee engagement and talent management. A tighter labour market is leading to a push on recruitment and retention. Greater mobility is creating risk for organisations talent management. So, Mary asked, why are people leaving? Perhaps for greater rewards and better careers. Mary drew attention to the fact the we are not matching what we are actually doing to manger this retention problem to what’s really happening. Improving onboarding and induction programmes is not the solution to the problem, they should be good anyways, more tactical focus needs to be implemented in organisations to protect their talent. We are also not seeing good exit interview process in many organisations, with 25% of organisations doing none at all.
  • Top three actions to improve retention: Learning and Development, Induction, Work life balance.
  • Another very interesting result from the survey that Mary highlighted was that all three of the answers to ‘what is constraining HR?’ centred around line management. Mainly the lack of time available for people management, followed by lack of development and support and ineffective devolution of HR. This is an area that HR needs to focus on going forward.
  • Gender pay gap: Only 20% of Irish organisations currently calculate their gender pay gap.

David D’Souza, Head of Engagement at CIPD then addressed the room. David gave three great pieces of advice that I took away from his talk:

  • He used the example of superman in the phonebooth, he goes into the booth in a business suit and comes out the other side as superman. Employees are coming into work with a spark in their eye, ready to take on the day and this can very quickly disappear. The aim is for the organisation to keep the spark in every employee and not let that disappear.
  • Our focus should be on outcome and not watching people work. David put the following scenario to the room: you are locked out of your apartment and have to call a locksmith. One locksmith is new, comes to look at the problem, can’t fix it, goes away to get parts, comes back and finally finishes the job. The second locksmith is an expert and arrives and in seconds opens the door. The question David asked, which locksmith would you rather pay? Most of us would be disgruntled handing over a sum of money to the man that took only a few seconds to open the door even though he gave us the outcome we wanted fastest. Business needs to focus on smart solution making, shortcuts and getting better at focusing on the outcome not the work for the sake of work.
  • David told the room to be brave, not to always follow the steps of past HR. Think outside the box for new solutions.

Niamh McNamara, Head of Hr from Novartis Global Services

  • Soft skills are very important- With more and more technology coming into the workplace, to remember that a robot can’t give a hug, listen or deal with emotional issues.
  • The recent storm and snow- the recent snow storm caused havoc for a lot of Employers. What Niamh and her team found was that productivity in their Organisation actually increased over the period. Niamh said that they took on board the weather warnings very early, had policies and directions in place so all Employees knew exactly where they stood. Because of the psychological trust between Employer and Employee work activity actually increased as people worked at home. A good lesson learnt, that her Company are going to make sure is the way forward as these extreme weather events become more regular.

Barry Holmes, Director, Group Human Resources, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

  • Barry said one of the issues HR are encountering is the rising (changing) expectations on pay and promotion. That career development is just as important after hiring the talent. There needs to be clear paths of growth and development.
  • Barry showed us a short clip of an ongoing project that RCS and Accenture are working on this year called ‘Women on Walls’ https://youtu.be/O0WMyjxqZGc. To recognise the pioneering achievements of eight extraordinary women and enhance the visibility of historical female leaders in medicine.

In the afternoon we heard great insight from Oonagh Buckley, Director General of the WRC. Oonagh discussed the role of the WRC and how they are working hard to get adjudications from start to finish in 6 months, the process in the past could have taken 3 years! Oonagh said that there is an opportunity after all complaints for parties to opt in to mediation. Mediation is a very successful way of resolving a dispute and can be done over the phone.

Johanne Duignan A&L Goodbody then spoke about case law and a recent final decision by the Court of Appeals on the ongoing Nano Nagle School case that sheds a lot of light on the area of Reasonable Accommodation. The Court of Appeal recently delivered judgment in a long running disability discrimination case which is noteworthy from an employer’s perspective. The judgment brings clarity to the law on the extent of an employer’s statutory duty to reasonably accommodate disabled employees.

In overturning the High Court judgment in Daly v Nano Nagle School, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that the statutory duty to reasonably accommodate a disabled employee is not as onerous as previously understood.

Significantly, the Court of Appeal confirmed that the obligation does not extend to requiring an employer to employ a person in a position if they are not able to perform the essential duties of that position. (A&L Goodbody)

The Court of Appeals Mr Justice Ryan said the “central reality” was Ms Daly was unable to perform the essential tasks of a SNA in this school “and no accommodations put in place by the employer can change that, unfortunately”. The Labour Court had not correctly applied the law to the undisputed facts.

To finish up the group was invited to attend breakout sessions with Ronan Dillon, CEO Healthy Workforce and Karl O’Connor, award winning coach. Health and wellbeing and Coaching are becoming two important topics for HR professionals. How to approach the Senior Management team to implement best practice on health promotion, to start small and have all the facts. Coaching is becoming an invaluable skill for practitioners to have. Many businesses are moving from the traditional performance review meeting to a coaching focussed meeting.

The final speaker of the day, Claire Walsh from Zendesk spoke on their recent achievement of winning the CIPD 2018 award for ‘use of technology in HR.’ Claire demonstrated how a great tool can ultimately increase the scope of the HR function in a Company, creating a greater flow of communication between Employees and their HR team.

It was a great day with some really fantastic speakers! Looking forward to next year!

Kate Siberry, HR Executive, Voltedge Management 

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, March 12th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: Are my employees entitled to a day off on Good Friday?

A: Good Friday is not a statutory public holiday in Ireland. While some schools, banks and other businesses close on that day (it is a Bank Holiday), employees do not have an automatic entitlement to time off work on that day; therefore, is no entitlement to Public Holiday pay for this day. 

Q: What is an intern and how should they be treated in the work context?

A: In the absence of any definite guidelines, the terms and conditions of internships vary considerably from business to business. However, all employers need to be aware that, depending on the circumstances of the internship and the actual nature of the engagement/work being undertaken, there is a risk that the intern may be found to be an employee. As a rule of thumb, a genuine internship will generally be for a relatively short period of time and the intern will be engaged mostly to “observe/train” rather than actually work.

Q: Do I need to give my intern a contract, seeing as they are not an employee?

A: When engaging an intern, ensure you have a written agreement with the intern, setting out the terms of the internship. This document should state the parties’ expectations of the internship and set out certain basic terms around training, mentoring and feedback. This document should confirm that the purpose of the internship is to give the intern an opportunity to learn about the business and should confirm that the intern is not an employee.

Q: Should the intern be given any other documents when they start?

A: Yes, the intern should be made aware of the company’s policies and procedures handbook that will be applicable during the placement. For example, the intern should be made aware of the organisation’s Anti-Bullying and Harassment policies. Similarly, they should confirm that they will abide by the organisation’s requirements with respect to confidential information. The employer should note that the provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 apply to all parties in the workplace, and not just employees.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

News from the Courts

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Fixed Term employee awarded almost €50,00 due to loss of increment entitlements

Recently the WRC awarded a County Council worker who had been engaged by one county council on a fixed term contract, and was subsequently hired on 4 more fixed term contracts.

However, despite the fact that her original contract stated that increments would be paid annually based on meeting a certain criteria such as attendance, conduct and performance, she did not receive any for the subsequent years.

The award was made on the basis that the employer was in breach of section 6 of the Fixed Term Work Act 2003 and as a result the worker was at a loss of almost €50,000 in earnings had the original increments been given during the relevant years.

In their defence, the Council said that the issuing of the contracts was an error and that she had exceeded the salary grade however as they did not set the pay terms, it was found to be invalid.

Talent Acquisition – Current Roles Available for Our Clients

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

 

Blue Insurance

SEO Specialist

 

Joseph Walsh Studio

 Artistic Directors Executive Assistant

Office Manager

 

Nicholas O’Dwyer

Recruitment Specialist

 

ONSIDE

Head of Research and Intelligence

Research and Intelligence Manager

 

PCO Manufacturing

Logistics Team Leader

 

The Relocation Bureau

Relocation Coordinator

 

ThinScale Technology

Software Engineer – C#

 

Voltedge Management

Project Manager – GDPR Contract Role

 

HR Brexit Update

Monday, March 12th, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research from ILM, which looked at the training budgets and preferences of 1,000 HR decision makers in the UK, reveals that 58% of those surveyed feel middle and senior managers would be unwilling to be seen as an apprentice.

The main reasons are “reputation and image” of apprenticeships (53%) and the implication that it means they need additional support (41%).

Only one third (37%) of UK businesses are very confident about their long-term supply of leaders and managers in their organisation. The research also indicates the problem is more acute in smaller businesses, where 73% believe middle and senior managers wouldn’t be willing to be seen as an apprentice.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, February 19th, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: If an employee is on part time hours, does the Parental Leave entitlement of 18 weeks change?

A: No, a person is still entitled to the full 18 weeks, it is not based on hours worked nor full or part time.

Q: Does taking Parental Leave affect my Employment rights?

A: Taking parental leave does not affect other employment rights you have. Apart from the loss of pay and pension contributions, your position remains as if no parental leave had been taken. This means, for example, that time spent on parental leave can be used to accumulate your annual leave entitlement.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Key Trends that Will Transform HR in the Next 10 Years

Monday, February 19th, 2018

In a recent article published by Whosonleave.com on the trends that will transform the workplace and Human Resources in the next 10 years. They state that Human Resources (HR) will be the pioneering force in creating the workplace of the future.

We share with you 4 of the most important trends that they say will transform the workplace and HR over the next years.

AI and Automation

Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation – we are seeing a major shift to automation and AI in industries that normally employ large numbers of employees – such as car manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and food manufacturing. This poses a difficult ethical issue for employers – it is inevitable that we will see more humans being replaced by robots in many industries.

HR will need to look at the quality of output instead of the employee output and ensure that it supports an evolving workplace in a fair and supportive manner.

Virtual Reality (VR)

We are already seeing a real surge in the use of VR particularly in onboarding, training and development of employees. This is very exciting – and will lead to safer workplaces with employees being able to ‘try out’ complex and potentially dangerous 3D activities through VR initially. HR will need to embrace this and assimilate effective and affordable VR into organisations where they can add real value.

HR Technology

HR technology has been a poor relation to most other functions in business (such as Finance/Manufacturing etc.) – however HR needs to introduce and upgrade technology that will effectively improve and enhance the training, onboarding and individual employee needs going forward.

Performance Management (PM) is one example – most employers don’t really feel Performance Management works perfectly or even well for them – millennials are also showing us the way on this as they look for immediate, continuous and timely feedback from their managers. HR needs to work towards an agile and effective development approach not based on ratings but on individual potential. HR has a huge role to play in this development.

Leadership

Leadership styles continue to define sectors and businesses. However, the new leadership style is collaborative, innovated and utilising technology to its maximum. HR needs to be supporting, training, coaching and developing these new leaders. By 2020, 75% of the workforce (US figures) will be millennials. So, we need to really work to the strengths of this generation.

Now that you know the HR trends to watch in the next 10 years, we’d love to hear your thoughts! Contact us on info@voltedge.ie or call our office on 01 5252914.

The Lunch “Break”

Monday, February 19th, 2018

 

How do your employees spend their lunch breaks? At their desks clogging up keyboards with crumbs, catching up on the headlines, emails and working? Sound familiar? It’s not really what a lunch “break” is supposed to be.

Back in the day when the Internet, let alone computers, didn’t exist or at least sit on everyone’s desks it was very common for people to go home for their lunch. Yikes, imagine taking the time to go home, eat a meal, maybe catch up on a few things in the house, chat to anyone else who was home for lunch and then go back to work feeling like you’ve had a real break ready to tackle the afternoon shift.

And if it wasn’t home you were going to it was certainly to a canteen, café or quite possibly the pub for an hour.  Nowadays employees might still get out, but it is most likely to pick up a takeaway, run errands and tick things off their never-ending to-do lists. Doesn’t sound like much of a “break”!

Research by Subway has shown that 58% of Ireland’s population is taking less than 30 minutes for lunch during the working day. Shockingly, only 15% of workers here are taking the full hour for their lunch break.

So, what can employers do to help their employees take a real break and come back to their desks feeling energised, productive and motivated for the afternoon, which quite possibly will stretch into the evening?

 Get them to leave their desks! 

“No-eating” at the Desk Policy

Have a “no-eat” at the desk policy, providing of course you have an alternative space for employees to go and eat.  This will promote social engagement and interaction with colleagues which turn will promote the sharing of information, ideas and issues that otherwise are not nurtured or vocalised.  Often the best ideas come from a “water cooler” chat rather than the boardroom.

Lunch Byte Sessions

A great way to get employees engaging and away from their work stations is to provide Lunch Byte Sessions. Run a series of one-hour modules on self-development topics such as How to be successful, Personal Branding, Body Language or Wellbeing. Or invite the employees themselves to do a presentation on a day in the life of Me.  Often referred to as Brown Bag lunches, the employer provides the food, which is an added incentive to attend.

10-Minute Walk

Encourage your employees to get some fresh air, even if it is a ten-minute trot around the block. Unplugging for those ten minutes and having head space alone or a chat with a colleague along with that burst of energy is a great stress-buster. Incentivise them to clock up “foot miles” which can be used to redeem a voucher, a free lunch or even towards time off.

Power Nap

Have you a quiet space where your employees can take a power nap? We all know tired people can be grumpy, irritable and unproductive!  It is proven that a quick 15-20-minute nap during the day can have huge benefits.  It will increase concentration and memory performance, making employees more productive, reducing stress levels and improving moods. In many countries such as Spain, Italy, Japan and China afternoon naps are a normal part of the daily culture.

We are recognising and understanding that the fast pace of our 24/7 always on lives can take its toll on our wellbeing. Employers have a duty of care to mind their employees.  It’s a win-win initiative, as happy, engaged, awake employees are far more productive and motivated.

It’s not called a Lunch “Break” for no reason!

 

 Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

HR Brexit Update

Monday, February 19th, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Abrivia 2018 Annual Salary Survey and Economic Analysis compiled data from over 7,400 client contacts and over 45,000 candidates. Here are the key findings on the questions of BREXIT:

  • People do not seem overly concerned about Brexit and its implications;
  • 42% firms agree that their supply chain will be disrupted due to Brexit;
  • ICT employers are becoming increasingly concerned about the implications of Brexit with mobility being a major worry;
  • Ireland exports around 17% of GDP to the UK;
  • Ireland exports 270k tonnes of beef to the UK, 50% of all production, representing €2.5bn per annum;
  • At present 50% of all international mail comes via the UK. 

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Changes to Maternity Benefit and Maternity Leave

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Changes announced in December 2017 will take effect from 1 October 2017, where Maternity Benefit is payable for an extra period after the end of the normal 26 weeks maternity leave in the event of a premature birth. Maternity Leave is also extended for this extra period. The extension corresponds to the time period between the baby’s actual birth date and the expected start date of Maternity Leave and Maternity Benefit.

In order to claim this additional time for your leave and benefits there are a few steps that need to be taken:

  1. Send the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection either a copy of your baby’s birth certificate or a letter from the hospital confirming the baby’s actual date of birth (which must be on or after 1 October 2017).
  2. In order to claim the extra Maternity Benefit, send the Department a letter from the hospital confirming the actual date of birth and the number of weeks’ gestation at which your baby was born, before the end of the first 26 weeks of Maternity Benefit. This information is required in order to ensure that you get your full entitlement. If you wish, you can provide all this information in your initial letter to the Department.

Obviously, it will be important to notify the employer of the additional leave that will be required, and entitlement to annual leave and public holiday leave will continue to accrue during this additional time.

Talent Acquisition – Current Roles Available for Our Clients

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

 

Blue Insurance

SEO Specialist

 

Joseph Walsh Studio

 Artistic Directors Executive Assistant

 

Irish National Opera

Head of Communication and Development 

Artistic Administrator

 

ONSIDE

Head of Research and Intelligence

Research and Intelligence Manager

 

PCO Manufacturing

Quality Specialist

Logistics Team Leader

Logistics Manager

 

Soprema Ireland

Field Technician – Construction Materials

 

The Relocation Bureau

Global Relocation Manager

 

ThinScale Technology

Software Engineer – C#

 

Other

Property Administrator

Get your Business and HR Ready for GDPR Compliance

Monday, February 19th, 2018

With the GDPR deadline fast approaching (May 25th 2018) Voltedge Management has been busy developing a full range of GDPR support services for our clients, to ensure compliance from a HR perspective.

  • We have a new Data Protection Policy for handbooks.
  • Updated clauses for employment contracts.
  • Step by step GDPR Guidelines on what to do regarding current employee data and records.

In addition to our HR supports, we also have developed GDPR Compliance Project Management Services, and have trained resources available to lead and coordinate with both internal and external stakeholders to define, plan and drive GDPR across the business to ensure GDPR compliance.

The services will span across the technical and operational functions that need to be addressed including the various systems/platforms, business process and documentation across the organisation. The Project Manager can work alongside existing GDPR teams or develop a GDPR Compliance Road Map if necessary.

With less than 14 weeks to go, don’t delay in getting in touch today with our Operations Manager Ingrid O’Sullivan to discuss this further. Call us on 00353 1 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie

HR Brexit Update

Monday, February 12th, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

If the UK insists on leaving a customs union with the EU it will result in a significant disruption to trade. While the December deal should protect all-island supply chains, new barriers to east-west trade with Britain would be a major blow to the food industry. Prepared consumer food (PCF) companies are particularly exposed. 

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

HR Brexit Update

Monday, February 5th, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Just months before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU in March 2019, less than a third of companies are aware of the serious sanctions in place for non-compliance to strict ‘right to work’ rules for overseas workers, from fines to prison sentences for Directors, or even instant closure – not least the potential impact to business’ reputation. Read more HERE.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

HR Brexit Update

Monday, January 29th, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

The Bar of Ireland believes Ireland can become a leading legal services centre if the Government can encourage private companies to use Irish law in the drafting of contracts.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Top Tips on How to Tackle January

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

The good news is we are nearly through January! However, there is of course still time to put those new regimes in place, the ones that sounded so easy and self-fulfilling after another portion of turkey and stuffing and that last mince pie.

Dry January, juicing, detoxing, superfoods, the gym, life coaching, restructuring… the list of things we are all supposed to suddenly be doing on the 1st of January, many of which we simply are not able to, is endless.  Yes, there is no doubt it’s the time of the year to do a bit of thinking and reassessment of our selves and our lives but putting on too much pressure will simply cause the pressure cooker to explode, and that’s not going to make this time of the year any easier!

Top Tip – Always have a fruit nearby

You come back to work on Monday to a zillion emails and the decorations still up! A quick declutter of the glitter can be refreshing and working from the top down on the what seems like an endless list of emails soon can purge into a manageable workload. Your next item on the list should be filling the office biscuit tin with fruit.

Top Tip –  Get moving

Battle the wind and rain and commute to work on your bike. Shift the excesses from Christmas and clear the cobwebs from your mind.  Whatever you do – walk, cycle, run, skip – getting out in the fresh and if you can during daylight hours – it will help you feel energised and less guilty hitting the couch in the evening.

Top Tip – Make plans

In order to make January more bearable, start planning. Whether it’s family and friend gatherings, birthdays, anniversaries, work events, holidays, having something to look forward to is such a positive feeling! It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive but knowing you have something in the diary, even if it’s a cup of coffee with a pal on a Saturday morning can help you get through the week.  It’s also a great way of focusing and managing time. So get that calendar out of the wrapper, you’ll be surprised at how quickly it gets filled up. And, make sure to plan some downtime too.

Top Tip – Make Me Time

Embrace the long days, the dreary weather instead of letting it get you down. No better excuse then to spend time at home, catching up on those jobs that never get done but provide an immense sense of achievement once they are.  And of course catching up on reading, movies, Netflix, long telephone calls, cooking nice meals, one on one time with your beloved ones. So what if you end up still in your PJs at the end of Saturday, do it and enjoy it!

Top Tip – Be honest with yourself

It’s easy to be overwhelmed and to make unreasonable and often irrational promises to yourself.  There are big issues that need addressing in all our lives, some more urgent and life changing than others. Use January as a time to rationalise them, make realistic plans that can be carried out and maintained. There’s a whole year ahead so don’t panic, keep the pressure on low to medium!

According to Forbes only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will complete them. Be one of the 92% who do by knowing what is truly achievable.

Happy New Year and best of luck in 2018 from everybody at Voltedge Management!

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Voltedge News – Shortlisted for HR Management and Leadership Awards 2018

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Voltedge Management was shortlisted in 5 of the categories for the HR Leadership and Management Awards 2018.

HR Awards 2018

Best Talent Management Strategy
Most Innovative Use of Technology
Best Change Management Programme
Best SME HR Initiative
Most Effective Employee Engagement Strategy
 
This is our fourth year in a row, being shortlisted for these awards and we are very excited. Last year we were winners in the Best SME HR Initiative and so we have our eye on a prize again this year!

HR Brexit Update

Monday, January 22nd, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Leaving the European Union without a deal in 2019 could cost Britain almost half a million jobs, a report found as London’s key finance industry vacancies also plummeted the most in three years.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Talent Acquisition – Current Roles Available for our Clients

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Blue Insurance:

Customer Service Executive

SEO Specialist

EBK Consulting:

Part Qualified Accountant

The Irish Dental Association:

Office Manager /Senior Administrator

Muscular Dystrophy Ireland:

Respite Services Administrator

PCO Manufacturing:

Quality Specialist

Soprema Ireland:

Field Technician – Construction Materials

Technician Sales Manager – Construction Materials

The Relocation Bureau:

Global Relocation Manager

ThinScale Technology:

Software Engineer – C#

Voltedge: 

HR Consultant

Other:

Property Administrator

Office Manager

 

Goal Setting for the New Year

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Just like setting New Year’s resolutions, setting SMART goals at work can make the difference between identifying what it is we want to achieve for the year and what the company needs us to focus on. January is a great time to start talking to employees about the goals for the year ahead.

Give your employees sight of the company goals, and the department goals, and then work out for them a set of SMART goals in individual meetings so that there is a high level of engagement and motivation to achieve those goals.

Why set goals:

  • To deliver business performance
  • To stretch and challenge individuals
  • To link an individual’s performance to the achievements of higher business goals
  • To provide a means for measuring progress
  • To focus behaviours
  • To motivate and develop the individual

Components of SMART goals are agreed by employee and manager, so that there is clarity and ownership of the performance needed to be successful. Making the goals SMART means the feedback conversation will be more effective and meaningful for both the employee and the manager.

SMART Goals

Specific in language

Measurable in quantifiable terms

Achievable with a reasonable effort

Results oriented, not activity oriented

Time bound

Remember, if a goal cannot be measured, attainment can never be known. What gets measured gets done!

Measurement checklist

  • Are the goals realistic?
  • Can each goal be assessed individually?
  • Has personal bias been avoided?
  • Have circumstances beyond anyone’s control been considered?
  • Can evidence be provided to support performance rating for each goal?
  • Has objectivity been maximised?

Providing ongoing and regular feedback is very important and can be the difference between effective performance achievement and mis-communication between the employee and manager.

Objectives of giving feedback

  • Positive feedback
    • Reinforces achievements
    • Motivates the individual
    • Acknowledges effort
  • Development feedback
    • Gives the individual an opportunity to change their behaviour
    • Helps resolve issues before they escalate to bigger problems

Guidelines for giving feedback:

  • Check your motivation for giving someone feedback.
  • Give feedback as immediately as possible.
  • Respect people’s needs for private discussions.
  • Be honest and upfront.
  • Recognise the positive aspects of a person’s performance.
  • Focus on specific performance examples, relating to things which actually happened in people’s jobs.
  • Make your discussions two way, ask questions, check reactions etc.
  • Vary your style according to the needs of the individual and situation.
  • Focus on helping to move someone’s performance forward.
  • Be tentative about information which is not completely clear.

Our team of skilled and experienced HR Consultants are available to discuss any related matter that this article highlights for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on info@voltedge.ie or call our office on 01 5252914.

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: How do I deal with the situation where one of my employee can’t come to work because her kid is home sick from school with flu and she says she has no child care to mind him?

A: At this time of year, this is a fairly typical question we get asked especially when the government have advised parents to keep their kids home from school to avoid the spread of the flu virus and winder cold virus.

While it’s important for employers to be supportive these kinds of situations can be very difficult to manage. The employee in question is probably finding the situation of a sick child difficult, and its understandable that the welfare of their child is a priority. Therefore give them the time off they need and if they are available to work remotely during this time off, that’s great but it may not be possible for them to juggle family and work in these circumstance.

Our advice would be firstly to keep communication channels open with the employee, find out if they have any availability to work from home. You could think of managing this situation in a similar way to how you managed the recent bad weather conditions, where employees were unable to travel to work.

If you both can be as flexible as possible around workload and deadlines, you might find that a good portion of the work will get done outside of normal hours because the employee appreciates your flexibility and understanding.

If this isn’t possible, then you could offer the employee the opportunity to take some annual leave, or some unpaid leave if this is something you have provision for in your handbook. There may be an opportunity also to work back the hours missed, so discussing this with the employee will help you both come to some arrangement.  

Q: Someone on my team wants to book out all of their holidays for the rest of the year already. I’m concerned that others on the team might need time off at the same time but aren’t as organised as this employee and it might cause problems when the summer holiday rota is being organised. What should I do? I don’t really want to penalise this employee for being organised but at the same time it is only January.

A: Even though it is January, the more organised of us will already be planning their holidays for the year ahead. Depending on your usual holiday policy, make sure everyone on the team is aware that they need to consider their plans for the year, so that you don’t delay this employee from making their holiday bookings.

This employee might have plans to travel somewhere in particular or there might be a family wedding that they need additional time off for, or there may be a special celebration coming up, or just an adventure they have been saving up for for years.

If there are certain times of the year where holiday cover for certain roles is critical, then speak to the team about this, and make sure everyone understands the requirements of the company as well as the personal requests of the individuals.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Legal updates – Minimum Wage

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

With effect from 1st January 2018 there is a new Minimum Wage. The National Minimum Wage Order 2017 means the minimum hourly rate for an audit has increased by 3.2% to €9.55 per hour.

Overall, it means that the minimum wage in Ireland has increased by 10.5% since 2015 – when the minimum wage was €8.65 per hour and comes on foot of the recommendations from the Low Pay Commission (a statutory body set up in 2015 to make recommendations on the rate of the minimum wage annually).

It is estimated that about 10% of employees in Ireland are on the minimum wage (about 155,000 people).
Minimum Wage

Note: each one-third period must be at least one month and no more than one year

HR Brexit Update

Monday, January 15th, 2018
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are on a hiring drive in Frankfurt as global investment banks race to establish new headquarters inside the European Union in time for Brexit.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

News from the Courts December 2017

Monday, December 18th, 2017

News from the courts:  Employer ordered to pay employee returning after cancer treatment €25,000 on grounds of disability discrimination

The employee in question had 28 years of impeccable service with the organisation, and following her period of absence for cancer treatment, she requested flexibility on her return to work as she suffered persistent fatigue.

The employee requested flexibility and offered various options for accommodation, including working from home for a few days a week, working from the organisations local offices where she wouldn’t have as far to travel etc.

She was able to provide evidence that other employees had been accommodated with working from home while they recovered from an injury but her manager did not carry out any assessment, trial or review to support his claim that her work could not be carried out from home.

The employee provided her employer with a breakdown of her functions between those which could be carried at home and those requiring her to be in the office but her employer “totally ignored her analysis and the medical advice, too.”

A review by the WRC found that a significant proportion of her work was done on the computer and that a prima facie case of discrimination was established on the grounds of disability, and pointed out that there is a duty on an employer to make adequate enquiries so as to be in possession for all the facts regarding the needs of an employee with a disability to be considered.

It was the view of the WRC that no attempt was made to facilitate the employee and felt her manager had responsibility in that regard.

HR Brexit Update

Monday, December 18th, 2017
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Migrate UK surveyed 1,000 organisations (SMEs with 250 or less employees to large businesses with 250+ staff), who currently hold a Tier 2/Tier 5 licence to sponsor overseas workers.

  • Companies need to get ‘house in order’ to prevent loss of talent through non-compliance before the UK exits the EU
  • Key errors in ‘right to work checks, audits and job advertisements on migrant workers – only 7% of businesses advertise vacancies correctly
  • Businesses still not aware of risks and consequences of Home Office audit/compliance check, from fines to closure

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Brexit and beyond: The HR impact for Irish employees in the UK and UK employees in Ireland

Monday, December 18th, 2017

HR Brexit Ready London Event

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Voltedge co-hosted our third in the series of HR Brexit Ready seminars to a packed audience of over 80 people in central London on January 23.

Brexit and beyond: The HR impact for Irish employees in the UK and UK employees in Ireland

The future status of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU is one of the key issues in the current Brexit negotiations. The outcome of these negotiations therefore has the potential to pose disruption to Irish and UK employers. While the eventual impact of Brexit remains the subject of political negotiation, it is clear that business needs to prepare for all eventualities in terms of the impact on workers.

The seminar will feature insights on Brexit and the potential unforeseen impact from an Irish and UK perspective. Topics of discussion will include:

  • Talent acquisition and competitiveness
  • Immigration
  • HR policy and procedures
  • Employment law issues, such as pensions and terms and conditions

The event, relevant for business leaders and HR professionals, includes a panel of UK and Irish experts who identify the HR roadmap to prepare your people and your business for Brexit. Our panel includes:

Keynote speaker:

  • John McGrane, Director General, The British Irish Chamber of Commerce

Panellists:

 

 

How to Stay Healthy over Christmas

Monday, December 11th, 2017

This time of year, between over-indulging in food and alcohol, late nights, meeting end of year deadlines and the stress and pressure of having everything in place for Christmas can take its toll on us.  It’s easy to lose the run of ourselves and come January we are often feeling burnt out and suffering from the blues.

Here are some tips on how to avoid that January feeling and bounce into 2018 with a smile.

Food

It’s so easy to overeat over Christmas, there are boxes of chocolates and biscuits in the office, lunches and dinners out and at home; we tend to stock up on tasty treats because “hey it’s Christmas”! And yes, we do all deserve to overdo it a little but the key message here is MODERATION.

Instead of saying yes to everything, and mindlessly dipping into the bowls of crisps, sweets, picking off the plates of nibbles and having that extra mince pie – STOP!

Think about what you are eating, enjoy and savour it and then step away.  There are usually some healthy options too, try a few and surprise yourself on how tasty they can be, replenishing your vitamin and mineral levels at the same time.

Tip 1: Food is fuel – the cleaner and purer the more efficient and stronger the body!

Exercise

Running around the shops, traipsing around town and decorating the house is often all the exercise many of us get at Christmas. And yes, it does count but keeping active and getting some fresh air has a huge impact on balancing stress levels and keeping the extra inches at bay.

A brisk walk after a big meal is a great way to keep energised and if you have a current exercise routine don’t put it on hold altogether for the month of December.  Stick with it as much as possible and come January the thought of going back to the gym, hitting the pavements or signing back up for that Pilates class will not hurt as much.

It’s a great way to get together with friends and family too, organise a hike and a picnic, a turkey sandwich eaten at the top of a mountain cannot be beaten.  And for the really brave and bold a dip in the sea will put a skip in anyone’s step – just be careful!

Tip 2: A fit and active body is one that is truly alive!

Stress

The end of the year can be a hugely stressful time in any work environment.  With deadlines, targets, planning and budgets all top of the agenda the pressure can be at boiling point.  Take stock, prioritise and manage your time efficiently. Plan your day and stick with that plan as best you can.  Be realistic in what you can achieve and be open with your colleagues and managers on your manageable goals.

The same applies for stress at home, financially Christmas can add huge strain so be realistic and don’t spend what you don’t have. Easy to say, but by planning early, taking advantage of offers, pre-Christmas sales and not leaving everything to the last minute you can avoid getting into debt and spending January worrying about bills and expenses.

Tip 3: Take stock, be realistic and plan for a stress-free time.

Alcohol

Mulled wine, bubbles, cocktails and sherry it’s hard to avoid a tipple or two and get a bit merry. Family gatherings and meeting up with friends there’s usually some alcohol on offer and given the festive spirit, well why not!!

But being mindful of what you are drinking is the key to minding yourself.  No one enjoys hangovers and that feeling of dread after one too many and if you are already feeling stressed or a little bit low those feelings are magnified and come become overwhelming.

So, follow the tips of never drinking on an empty stomach (hard to do over Christmas); pace yourself, drink plenty of water and try not to mix your drinks too much. Be aware of how much you are drinking, don’t top up, finish your glass first otherwise you really have no idea how much you have drunk. And remember it is ok to say NO! Your friends and family will be jealous of your clear head the next day.

Tip 4: Have a tipple and be merry just don’t over-do it on the Sherry!

And lastly be mindful of others.  Christmas can be a difficult time for many people, if you know someone is feeling low, lonely or stressed reach out to them. Volunteer to help out at a local centre, fund raising or simply to do a bit of shopping for a neighbour – it will make their day and make you feel good too.

Tip 5: Enjoy, be kind, be safe and be healthy… Happy Christmas!

Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Top Tips on Conducting Year-End Performance Reviews

Monday, December 11th, 2017

As we approach year-end, managers are starting to think about conducting performance appraisals with their teams. It’s not just Santa who is making a “naughty” and “nice” list”!

Here we share some top tips for conducting performance appraisals and getting the most out of your year-end reviews.

 Communicate in advance

  • Send the employee an overview / refresher of the performance appraisal process.
  • Ask them to prepare in advance for the meeting – many performance appraisal processes include an employee self-appraisal as part of the process.
  • Be positive about the process – it is an opportunity to look back over the previous year, acknowledge work well done and identify mutually agreed solutions to any challenges.

 Prepare for the meeting

  • Analyse the employees progress over the last year by reviewing notes from one-to-one meetings, assessing progress against goals and noting any workshops / training they attended.
  • Make a note of any of the achievements you wish to recognise and the development areas you want to highlight.

 Be organised

  • Agree a time and place that works for both of you.
  • Make sure the location is private and that you will not be disturbed.
  • Schedule enough time so that the conversation will not be rushed.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Make sure the temperature of the room is comfortable and have water available.

 Set the tone

  • Use the first five minutes of the meeting to set a friendly tone and relax the employee – remember, not every employee looks forward to the performance appraisal meeting and some will be nervous.
  • Set an agenda for the meeting so that the employee knows what to expect.

 Catch up

  • Start the review by getting an understanding of how the employee is feeling and what highs and lows they have had since the last review.
  • Be an active listener.
  • Take the time to consider the employee’s motivations and abilities.

 Review

  • Give the employee performance feedback on what has gone well and what could be managed better in the future.
  • Always be specific in your feedback and have examples to illustrate your points.
  • Review the skill requirements of the role and discuss the areas in which they are exceeding expectations, are on target and areas below expectations.
  • Identify development needs and any supports required by the employee.
  • Where improvements are required, work on problem solving together rather than blaming. The conversation should be supportive and solution based!

 Plan

  • Agree on objectives that the employee needs to work on between now and the next review.
  • Encourage the employee to play an active role in identifying these objectives. They are much more likely to be achieved if the employee is interested from the beginning!
  • Make sure any goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timebound).
  • Agree a development plan which will include mapping out any training or coaching that is required.
  • Remember that showing an interest in an employee’s professional and career development demonstrates that you are committed to their success and enhances their overall engagement and satisfaction.

Finally, here is a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts to keep in the forefront of your minds!

Do's and Don'ts on conducting year-end reviews

Our team of skilled and experienced HR Consultants are available to discuss any related matter that this article highlights for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on info@voltedge.ie or call our office on 01 5252914.

Margaret McCarthy, HR Consultant

Talent Acquisition – Current Roles Available for our Clients

Monday, December 11th, 2017

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Blue Insurance:

Senior SEO Specialist

Irish Dental Association:

Office Manager / Senior Administrator

Muscular Dystrophy Ireland:

Respite Co-ordinator

Liquid Finance:

Sales Executive

Clavis Insight:

Data Analyst

Soprema Ireland:

Technical Sales Manager

ThinScale Technology:

Software Engineer – C#

Other:

Property Administrator

Office Manager

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, December 4th, 2017
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

The U.K. and the European Union are working against the clock to reach a compromise on the Irish border that will allow a breakthrough in Brexit talks.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, November 27th, 2017
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney raised the possibility of a breakthrough in Brexit talks next month, and urged the UK to make further concessions to allow talks to move to trade.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, November 20th, 2017
Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

Brexit could cost the U.K.’s aerospace industry 1.5 billion pounds because of increased customs checks, Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee warned.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Your HR Questions Answered

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: What should I do for the Festive season to show staff we appreciate them and extend best wishes to their family too?

A: It’s a good idea to get ready for the Festive Season and here are a few ideas of things you can do to show your employees that you value them.

With only 6 weeks to go, Christmas is truly upon us and so many of our client companies are already in planning mode to make this special time of the year a memorable one for staff and their families. Here are a few things that companies can organise to express their appreciation and gratitude for all the hard work and commitment during the year:

  • Decorate the Workplace – add some Christmas cheer to the workplace with decorations, a Christmas Tree and some festive treats.  It will put a smile on everyone’s face in the morning and lighten spirits even if it is dark outside.
  • Organise a Family Christmas event – whether it is an office Santa Experience, family tickets to the Christmas Panto, or tickets for Ice Skating, one of the many musical Christmas shows in the local theatres – it’s a great way for employees to share in the Christmas cheer with their loved ones.
  • Nominate a Company Christmas Charity and instead of sending Christmas cards and gifts, send a donation to your chosen charity or charities, and circulate some information on that charity to your staff and customers so that they too can appreciate the difference your donation can make to a worthy cause.
  • Organise the Office Kris Kindle – put a maximum monetary value to the gift or a theme for this year, and pick out staff names, so that no one knows who’s left their Secret Santa gift under the Christmas tree this year. Handing out the Christmas gifts can be a great end of work event.
  • Corporate gifts are often sent to the sales or marketing departments. A great way to share this out across the company, is to give a gift to each employee, pull a ticket from a hat and pick your gift, or you could use it as a fund raiser for charity or the sports and social club too. That way everyone gets to share in the corporate Christmas cheer.
  • Employer tax free Non-Cash Gifts. Changes made a few years ago now provide for employers to give employees up to €500 tax free as a non-cash gift in any one year. There are many voucher options and other types of gifts that can be considered by companies as a gesture to say Thank You and Happy Christmas.
  • Lunch and Dinner events: It can be a really good bonding treat for department managers to organise a department lunch out with perhaps an early finish to recognise the season of good will and say thank you for your support and hard work during the year. The Company nights out are of course welcomed social events on the annual calendar and it’s a great opportunity for a positive message from the leadership team – communicating a message of appreciation and sharing the vision for the future ahead.
  • Card or email: and of course, don’t forget the traditional and simple Christmas Card on the desk from you to each member of your team, with a personalised message, this can be a really powerful communication from any manager.

Whatever it is you are considering to mark the Christmas Season in your company, always make sure you are fair and consistent with your actions and you’re recognising and rewarding the right behaviours.

Q: What do I do if I hear rumours that an employee is claiming harassment from another employee but they haven’t made any formal complaint?

A: The area of harassment and bullying in the workplace is certainly very topical at the moment and we expect to hear more on this over the coming months.

There is a very clear code of practice that employers are expected to follow when an issue of harassment or bullying arises in the workplace and employers are certainly encouraged to be proactive. Ensure you open up dialogue with the employee(s) in question and at the same time, ensure fairness and equal treatment for all concerned, remembering of course that everyone is entitled to fair procedure and due process and the status of innocence until proven otherwise.

In these cases, the good name and reputation of the employee or ex-employee need to be taken into account. Therefore, following the code of practice is very important.

We have a team of trained and skilled investigators and consultants who have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to discuss any issue of concern with you. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Retirement Age questioned in recent High Court Case

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

In the last few weeks, a High Court judgement served as a useful reminder that employers who have a proposed retirement age for employees must consider whether they are actually entitled to retire the employees at all. The case of Quigley v HSE is one to watch as the High Court has granted an interlocutory injunction to restrain the HSE from dismissing the employee who contended that he was not contractually required to retire at age 65.

This of course reminds us that having a contractual retirement age in the contract is an essential prerequisite. In this recent case, the HSE contended that the requirement to retire at age 65 had been implied into the contract of employment and that as a long-standing permanent officer of the HSE, he must have known that he had to retire at age 65, the statutory retirement age for permanent officers who joined the public health service at the time he did.

Of course the contractual retirement age even if it is stated as a mandatory retirement, can still be challenged to ensure there is no grounds for age discrimination or Unfair Dismissals under the Acts. Interestingly age discrimination claims are becoming the norm where the absence of a retirement age that is objectively justified, the employer can be exposed under the Employment Equality Acts in respect to enforcing the retirement of an employee based on age.

It is likely that there will be further reviews of this matter in 2018, when it may require legislative change.

Wellness at Work – Ergonomics

Monday, November 13th, 2017

This month we are talking about Ergonomics – One of those words that we all go “yeah” I know what that is (sort of) and then go off and think of something else!

However it’s a word worth thinking about.  How often at the end of the day do you get up from your desk and think yikes I’ve been on that chair for over 8 hours. You stretch and then realise that you haven’t actually straightened your back in those 8 hours sitting busily at your desk.  This is where Ergonomics comes into play.

Ergonomics is the “Study of capabilities and limitations of mental and physical work in different settings. Ergonomics applies anatomical, physiological, and psychological knowledge (called human factors) to work and work environments in order to reduce or eliminate factors that cause pain or discomfort. Ergonomic designs of tools and equipment have helped curtail the occurrence of musculoskeltal disorders and repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTL). Also called human engineering.”

Translated into the office environment it’s all the factors that impact the health, wellbeing and most importantly the productivity of employees from desks, chairs, workstations to stress management, working hours and working practices.

As employers we have a duty of care to ensure our employees are provided with a comfortable and supportive workplace however it is also up to each employee to be aware of the impact of bad ergonomics and adjust themselves accordingly.  Some elements are easier to fix than others and here’s a list to start with!

The most obvious to look at first are the physical set ups: 

Graph1

These are all critical elements that can be relatively easily fixed and can have a considerable impact in your wellbeing at work.  As many as 1 in 5 regular computer users are diagnosed with a musculoskeletal problem affecting the upper limbs.

Next look at the environmental aspects:

Ergonomics

Interestingly there is term used for buildings with a high proportion (more than 20%) of its occupants reporting illness which are believed to be related to the actual building “Sick Building Syndrome”.  Illnesses such as respiratory, skin, nerve, headaches, nausea, fatigue, eye and nasal problems which often are relieved once leaving the building can cause increases in sickness absenteeism and causes a decrease in productivity of the workers.

The reasons for a Sick Building are often down to bad ventilation, overuse of chemical products, external fumes or moulds and funguses which unless addressed and fixed will be detrimental to any business working in such an environment.  This is the extreme end of the scale and if you think your building is sick, it is vital to have it checked by an expert.

You may not even realise you are working in an Non Ergonomic environment yet wonder why are you feeling stiff, joint pain, headaches and possibly stressed as a result of it.

A well-designed workspace is proven to increase productivity. One that provides comfort, a sense of privacy and space and is aesthetically pleasing promotes happiness, motivation and collaboration.

Research has shown that effective office ergonomics interventions on average reduce the number of musculoskeletal problems by 61%, reduce lost workdays by 88% and reduce staff turnover by 87%. The Cost:Benefit Ratio is on average 1:1.78 with a payback period of 0.4 years.

So remember…

  • As an employer check in with your employees regularly and listen to any concerns – happy employees are productive and motivated.
  • As an employee alert your manager if you’re not happy with your set up and remember to stand up, stretch and straighten your every 30 mins – it will do wonders for you!

Keep in mind that these are all critical elements that can have a considerable impact in your wellbeing at work. Voltedge advises and supports clients on all HR issues including wellbeing at work. For further information, contact us at info@voltedge.ie.

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, November 13th, 2017

brexit-update-v3

For Ireland there’s a dilemma – it wants to make sure there is no hard border but it also wants talks to move on to trade as it’s one of the economies most dependent on U.K. ties and a no-deal Brexit would hurt Ireland more than any other country but Britain.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Dealing with Harassment in the Workplace & Conducting Investigations

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Harassment in the workplace can occur in a number of different forms. Sexual harassment is one of the primary forms, but there are also non-sexual types of harassment that can occur on the job.

What is Harassment?

The Employment Equality Acts, 1998 – 2015 specifically deals with harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. Harassment and sexual harassment are defined and prohibited in relation to nine areas of potential discrimination which are Gender, Age, Marital Status, Family Status, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Race, Religion and Membership of the Traveller Community.

Harassment is defined as:

  • Acts
  • Requests
  • Words
  • Gestures
  • Production, display or circulation of material that is unwanted by the recipient, related to any of the discriminatory grounds, and being conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person.

What is Sexual Harassment

The Employment Equality Acts, 1998 – 2015 clearly defines sexual harassment as forms of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person.

Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work

This code of practice seeks to promote the development and implementation of policies and procedures which establish working environments free of sexual harassment and harassment and in which the dignity of everyone is respected.

The code does not impose any legal obligations, nor is it an authoritative statement of the law. However, employers are encouraged to follow the recommendations in a way which is appropriate to the size and structure of their organisation.

That code states that an employer shall be legally responsible for the sexual harassment and harassment suffered by employees in the course of their work unless the employer took reasonably practicable steps to prevent sexual harassment and harassment from occurring and to reverse the effects of it and to prevent its recurrence.

Employers who take the steps that are set out in the code to prevent their employees from committing acts of unlawful sexual harassment or harassment or to reverse the effects of it and to prevent its recurrence, may avoid liability from such acts in any legal proceedings brought against them.

In line with the Code of Practice employers should:

  • Have in place an accessible and effective policy which covers harassment and sexual harassment.
  • The policy must include a detailed complaints procedure that will be available to employees to process their complaint.
  • Clients, customers and business contacts who interact regularly with the organisation should be made aware of the policy e.g. summaries of policies prominently displayed, leaflets, contracts could provide that sexual harassment or harassment of employees of the employer will constitute a repudiation of the contract and may be a ground for the employer to treat the
    contract at an end.

 How to deal with a Harassment Complaint

The complaints procedure within a Harassment policy should provide for both informal and formal methods of resolving problems.

 Informal

The informal procedure should provide that employees should attempt to resolve the problem informally in the first instance. In some cases, it may be possible and sufficient for the employee to explain clearly to the person engaging in the unwanted conduct that the behaviour in question is not welcome, that it offends them or makes them uncomfortable and that it interferes with their work.

In circumstances where it is too difficult for an individual to do this on his/her own, an alternative approach would be to seek support from, or for an initial approach to be made by a
colleague or designated person. The designated person could look at arranging a meeting between the two parties to discuss the employee’s concerns or alternatively mediation could be discussed as an option.  However, the employee should be made aware at the outset that any informal discussion does not prevent the complaint from being dealt with formally.

 Formal

The complaints procedure within a Harassment policy should provide for a formal complaints procedure. It might be the case that the employee making the complaint wishes it to be treated formally, that the harassment is too serious to be treated informally, that the informal attempts at resolution have failed or the harassment has continued beyond the informal procedure.

 A Step by Step guide to dealing with a formal complaint 

1. Appoint an Investigator

  • He/she must be completely impartial and unrelated to the complaint itself. 

2. Meet with the complainant

  • Request that they put their complaint in writing and sign and date this.
  • However, a written complaint should not be a requirement for the organisation to deal with the issue.
  • Advise the complainant that the alleged perpetrator will be informed and given a copy of the complaint. 

3. Notify the alleged perpetrator

  • The alleged perpetrator(s) should be notified that an allegation of harassment has been made against them.
  • They should receive a copy of the complaint.
  • They should be made aware that they will be afforded an opportunity to respond to the allegation(s). 

4. Conduct a Formal Investigation

  • The principles of Natural Justice should apply to any investigation.
    • Informed of the process form the outset
    • Right to know the specifics of the allegation(s) and evidence
    • Right to reply & sufficient time to prepare
    • Right of representation
    • Right to a fair and impartial decision
  • It is useful for the investigator to agree some Terms of Reference at the outset of the investigation to ensure clarity for all on the purpose, scope and process.
  • The investigator should meet with the complainant and alleged perpetrator(s) and any witness or relevant persons on an individual basis in order to establish the facts.
  • Formal invite letters should be issued for each meeting.
  • All parties may be accompanied by a work colleague/trade union representative as outlined in the company policy.
  • Minutes of the meetings should be recorded, and these should be read back to the interviewee and agreed at the end of the meeting. The interviewee should sign to indicate that the minutes are an accurate record of what was discussed.
  • Witnesses should be made aware that their statements will be circulated to the complainant and alleged perpetrator.
  • Witness statements should be circulated to both parties and they should be given the opportunity to respond.
  • A draft report should then be circulated to both parties and they should be given the opportunity to comment before the report is finalised.
  • A final report would then be issued by the investigator.
  • Both the complainant and the alleged perpetrator should be given the opportunity to appeal – the appeal must be heard by another manager/director who has not been involved in the initial investigation and who is not subordinate to the original investigator.

Our team of HR Consultants are skilled and experienced investigators and are available to discuss any related matter that this article highlights for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on info@voltedge.ie or call our office on 01 5252914.

Margaret McCarthy, HR Consultant

Talent Acquisition – Current Roles we have available for our Clients

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients.

This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates.

We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Liquid Finance:

Sales Executive

The Relocation Bureau:

Assistant Client Account Manager

Clavis:

Activation and Delivery Manager (Operations) – ecommerce Intelligence Solutions

Soprema Ireland:

Technical Sales Manager

ThinScale Technology:

Software Engineer – C#

Other:

Experienced Bookkeeper and Office Manager

Weekly Brexit Update

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017
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The Bank of England expects Britain to lose up to 75,000 financial services jobs after the country leaves the European Union in 2019, the BBC reported.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

brexit-update-v3

According to RDJ Employment PartnerJennifer Cashman, “Businesses must focus their Brexit impact assessments on their greatest asset – their people. Irish employers with operations in the UK, and vice versa, must review and audit their staffing arrangements to identify any necessary restructuring. Employment contracts, secondment arrangements and expatriate arrangements must all form part of this audit process to identify the potential impact of Brexit on existing arrangements. Employers also need to be cognisant of the potential impact of Brexit on pensions, staff retention and succession planning and determine what steps need to be taken to mitigate the impact and risks.”

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Talent Acquisition – Current roles we have available for our clients

Monday, October 16th, 2017

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients. This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates. We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Soprema Ireland:

Technical Support Assistant

Technical Sales Manager

ThinScale Technology:

Software Engineer – Windows Internals C++

Software Engineer – C#

Tehnical Marketing Engineer

Other:

Senior HR Business Partner

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, October 16th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: Do I have to pay employees who didn’t come to work or even make an effort to work from home during the hurricane weather conditions, and what about the following day too if they say they can’t travel?

A: We are very fortunate here in Ireland that extreme weather conditions are an exception, however Monday 16th October 2017 will be remembered for the devastation and destruction caused by Hurricane Ophelia and sadly the tragic loss of life. As an employer, you do have a duty of care to your staff to ensure they can attend for work safely. These current weather conditions are outside anyone’s control so it is very much up to each employer to decide how to deal with this issue, just like the snow storm we had in December 2010.

Best practice suggests you offer employees the opportunity to work from home, which doesn’t require them to make any journey out in these conditions for work reasons. The Taoiseach reaffirmed in a media briefing that all public service employees would be paid for Monday 16th as their services were closed across the country, and clarified that private sector companies could decide for themselves but referenced the provision for force majeure leave in such circumstances. Our advice is to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of your staff as a priority, and I’m sure the backlog of work will be worked through by your valued employees over the coming days.

Q: I need to ask an employee to change the work she does, as part of the business is diminishing and we need her to work more on reception as our reception has become much busier.  She currently is an Administrator and does a small amount of reception work. We will now need her to do more work on reception, and we know she will not want to do this. Can she request redundancy?

A: If this is a clear business need, you have no option but to change her job content. If the job is not changing significantly (i.e. less than 50%), then you should explain the rationale and help her understand that this is a minor change in her role, and you hope that she will be happy to understand this in line with the business needs.

If the position is changing radically (i.e. over 50%) you should inform her that her current position is no longer viable, and you are now offering her an alternative position as receptionist with some administration work. If she is not prepared to take this new position, then you should state that she will be able to take redundancy.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.

Gender discrimination claim relating to Paternity Pay

Monday, October 16th, 2017

The SFA (Small Firms Association) this month highlighted an interesting case regarding The Paternity Leave and Benefits Act 2016.  The Act brought Ireland in line with many of our OECD neighbours and entitles new parents (other than the mother of the child) to two weeks paternity leave anytime within 26 weeks of birth or adoption placement. Employers are not obliged to pay employees who take paternity leave but employees may qualify for paternity benefit from the Department of Social Protection (DSP) if they have sufficient PRSI contributions.

In some cases, an employee’s contract of employment could provide for additional rights to payment by the employer during the leave period, so that, for example, the employee could receive full pay less the amount of Paternity Benefit payable – however this additional payment by the company is discretionary but if it forms part of the contractual terms and conditions then it is an entitlement.

In a case taken to the Workplace Relations Commission recently, the question of whether an employer would be obliged to ‘top up’ paternity leave if they already had a practice of providing a maternity leave ‘top up’ was raised.

Area manager vs a public-sector transport company

The complainant, an area manager with a public-sector transport company, became a parent a few months after the company had issued a memo advising employees of the newly introduced legal entitlement to statutory paternity leave. The existing company’s discretionary paternity leave scheme (which had provided for 3 days leave) was being terminated. The memo, issued by the transport company’s HR Department, stated that employees availing of the newly introduced paternity leave would receive payment from the Department of Social Protection (DSP). However, the claimant did not have sufficient PRSI contributions and, as such, was not entitled to payment from the DSP.

The complainant argued that, as a new male parent, he was treated less favourably to a new female parent. He maintained that as female employees were entitled to paid maternity leave, topped up by the employer, there was a case for gender discrimination on that basis.

Interestingly, on hearing the case, the Adjudicating Officer (AO) described the area manager’s equation of paternity leave with maternity leave as ‘misplaced’. Noting the special protection afforded to women in connection with pregnancy and maternity that is embedded in Irish and European law, he said an employer is ‘entitled to make special provision for women at the time of maternity leave and is protected in that regard by the (equality) legislation under which the complainant was brought’.

 The fact that the company withdrew its 3-day paternity leave provision without notice was observed by the AO as an IR issue that should have been handled better by the company.

Based on his findings the AO found that the complainant had failed to establish some prima facie of discrimination on the grounds of gender with regard to conditions of employment. His findings showed that the employer is entitled to make special provision for women in connection with pregnancy, and that maternity leave is different to paternity leave. The complainant therefore failed.

As a reminder, if you are considering taking paternity leave, you should apply at least 4 weeks prior to starting (12 weeks advised if you are self-employed). You can apply online at www.mywelfare.ie with a valid public services card.

For further information and rules of eligibility visit Citizens Information.

Voltedge advises and supports clients on all HR issues including management of all leave types. For further information, please contact Kate Siberry, at admin@voltedge.ie.

Businesses must get HR Brexit ready

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

brexit

After a successful launch in Dublin of our HR Brexit Ready programme in June with our partners – European Movement Ireland, Ronan Daly Jermyn, Fragomen, Morgan McKinley – we  visited Cork on 25th September and co-hosted an exclusive Brexit Briefing with Guest of Honour, Minister Simon Coveney, TD., Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Brexit. The emphasis was very much on business’ key asset – its employees. 

The series of events on the HR perspective of Brexit brought together business leaders and HR professionals to address how companies can help their people negotiate Brexit and the challenges it may create for them.

Chairing the seminar, Noelle O’Connell, Executive Director of European Movement Ireland, said: “It’s now nearly 6 months since Prime Minister May triggered Article 50 and with less than 550 days till the UK is due to exit the EU, it is vital that Irish businesses and organisations ramp up their engagement in terms of getting ready for Brexit. This is particularly important from a people and HR perspective and it is why we’ve brought together the leading companies in Cork to devise a HR Roadmap for Brexit.
Opening the conference, keynote speaker Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with Special Responsibility for Brexit, Mr Simon Coveney TD said: “Brexit presents unprecedented political, economic and diplomatic challenges for Ireland. The Government’s response has been unrelenting. Ireland’s concerns and priorities are fully reflected in the EU’s negotiating position. We are clear on what we want: the gains of the peace process protected, including avoiding a hard border; an orderly UK withdrawal; a sufficiently long and non-disruptive transition arrangement; and the closest possible EU-UK future relationship. We need to minimise the impact on our trade and economy. At home, the Government has already taken important steps to prepare our economy with more to come, including a new 10-year capital plan. But our businesses also need to prepare and the Government wants to help. Our enterprise agencies continue to work with companies, helping them to deal with Brexit – making them more competitive, diversifying market exposure, and up-skilling teams.”
 
Hosted in Ronan Daly Jermyn Law (RDJ) offices in Cork, RDJ Employment Partner, Jennifer Cashman noted that: “Businesses must focus their Brexit impact assessments on their greatest asset – their people. Irish employers with operations in the UK, and vice versa, must review and audit their staffing arrangements to identify any necessary restructuring. Employment contracts, secondment arrangements and expatriate arrangements must all form part of this audit process to identify the potential impact of Brexit on existing arrangements. Employers also need to be cognisant of the potential impact of Brexit on pensions, staff retention and succession planning and determine what steps need to be taken to mitigate the impact and risks.”
 
Focusing on the immigration impact for employers, Bill Foster, a Partner with Fragomen, noted that there are options for Irish and British nationals that will allow them to remain in each other’s countries post-Brexit and that should give both employers and their workers some comfort. However, he went on to say: “The August policy paper on Ireland from the British Government, saying they will maintain all rights under the Common Travel Area, is helpful for businesses to plan for Brexit, but there is an awful lot of work to be done by the UK government to satisfy all parties that the border with Northern Ireland will remain open and free from any control.”
 
HR business consultancy Voltedge’s Co-Founder, Joyce Rigby Jones, said that Voltedge suggests employers should appoint a ‘Brexit Champion’ to focus the business and have a central point of contact for employees. “Employees are our most important resource however Brexit planning continues to focus entirely on the business and financial implications – we need to re-focus on what is important”, she said.
Trayc Keevans, Director of Inward Investment Global with Morgan McKinley, was also speaking at the event. She commentated that: “There are high levels of mobility in the professional jobs market in Ireland and strong interest among potential inbound employees from the EEA including currently the UK where, in July, the UK government announced an end to freedom of movement for EU nationals by March 2019.” She added that: “Businesses in Ireland need to be geared up to support UK citizens currently working here so as to reassure and retain them in the Irish workforce, and also to attract new skills and talent which may otherwise depart the UK in the context of Brexit. Foreign investment interest in Ireland is strong including multinationals considering Ireland as a European hub and who have already ruled out other locations. This is due largely to Ireland’s overall competitiveness, skills availability and supportive business climate which we must all work hard to promote and maintain.”

This was the second of HR Brexit Events and we’d be delighted to speak to you further on any HR Brexit queries you might have and advise you on how to navigate your business and your team. Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie.

News from the Courts: Employee awarded €8,000 for not being allowed an interpreter during grievance hearing

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

A Latvian employee was awarded €8,000 by the WRC as her employer repeatedly refused to allow an interpreter during a grievance process. The employee had claimed they were victimised and harassed by her manager as he had been aggressive towards her one morning in December 2014 over the tidiness of her work area, and had shouted at her several times, which she reported, had shocked her and left her very stressed. The WRC found that while she was not harassed he did highlight that the company’s policy not to allow an interpreter demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of the requirements of the [Employment Equality] Acts.

Even at her appeal, she was again denied the use of an interpreter even though she had written to her employer, with the assistance of her interpreter, expressing her disappointment and stating her fear that she “would not be able to explain herself clearly at the meetings and that she would not be able to understand the process and its terminology fully and therefore needed the assistance of an interpreter.
She did acknowledge that she could communicate in English in general terms with no problems but that a grievance process was not the same as daily communications in the work place, as it would involve specific terminology.

While her union representative could not speak Latvian, the employer maintained they had been able to fully represent her at each stage of this process to ensure she had a fair hearing of her grievance, but at the same time had written to her to indicate that she had literacy problems in relation to spoken and written English, and they required her to take a literacy test. The employer indicated that if the result of this test was found to be low, it reserved the right to terminate her contract of employment.

The WRC AO pointed out the contradictory position of the employer, on one hand it doubted her English ability to the point it required her to take a literacy test, and on the other hand maintained her English was sufficient to participate in the grievance process despite her repeated requests for allowing an interpreter.

While employers have a right to enforce a policy of one common language in the workplace, this was not the issue in this case. Preventing an interpreter attend to a grievance procedure regardless of the English ability of the worker, places a non-Irish worker at a significant disadvantage and is indirectly discriminatory. The WRC awarded the complainant €8,000 for the effects of race discrimination, but did not find she was victimised or harassed.

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, September 25th, 2017

brexit-update-v3

Brexit will have a considerable impact on our relationship with the UK and will pose many challenges. According to a recent CIPD Ireland survey of over 800 HR professionals, two-thirds (66%) reported that maintaining the free movement of labour between Ireland and the UK was either extremely important or very important for their organisation.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Brexit and Beyond: Is your business HR Brexit ready?

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

 

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Voltedge is delighted to be co-hosting an exclusive Brexit briefing on September 25th in Cork with Guest of Honour, Minister Simon Coveney, TD., Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Brexit. Our panel of UK and Irish experts will identify the HR roadmap to prepare your people and your business to navigate Brexit. With employees becoming more concerned about how Brexit may impact them personally this is a critical time to give clear and appropriate direction. As the countdown for the United Kingdom’s general election continues, the outcome will have a significant impact on the Brexit process and this in turn, will impact you business.

Keynote speaker: Simon Coveney, TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Brexit.

The future status of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU is one of the key issues in the current Brexit negotiations. The outcome of these negotiations has the potential to pose serious disruption to Irish businesses, and their employees, especially as the UK seeks to impose restrictions around the free movement of people. While the eventual impact of Brexit remains the subject of political negotiation, it is clear that business needs to prepare for all eventualities.

This is the second of HR Brexit Events and we’d be delighted to speak to you further on any HR Brexit queries you might have and advise you on how to navigate your business and your team.

 

DATE: Monday, 25 September, 2017

TIME: 8:00am – 8:30am Registration and light breakfast

8:30am – 10:00am Briefing and Panel Q&A

PLACE: Ronan Daly Jermyn, 2 Park Place, City Gate Park, Mahon Point, Cork

 

 Please email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie with any queries.

Your HR Questions Answered

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively. Every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: Can we reduce our employees’ salaries?

Although most companies in our sector seem to be doing well, we have a lot of direct competitors and our sales have deteriorated badly in the last 12 months. The senior management team has taken a 20% cut in salary, and we have a senior sales manager who is paid a very high salary who refuses to do the same. Can we enforce a 20% pay reduction on his salary?

A: If the employee has a contract stating his salary and conditions, you are effectively breaching his legal entitlement. The best way to approach this is to consult with him, outline all the facts, and state that you are looking for him to work with you during this difficult phase which is hopefully short-term.

If he still refuses to co-operate, you could look at cutting out his sales commission/bonus, as this should not be part of his contract of employment, and may not be legally binding.

Make sure that you have looked at ALL the options, such as part-time working, offering career breaks, sabbaticals, offering flexible working, looking at your business pricing structures, your overheads. Your operational structure may also need to be reviewed to ensure that you have the best competencies and skills to deliver results in the business.

Q: We have received a couple of grievance complaints about employees being treated unfairly during the performance management process – they say that they are being given very negative feedback which is unfair and unjustified.

A: Giving feedback is vitally important, however too much negative feedback will only de-motivate any employee. If the employee needs to improve, they need to know the areas of improvement, but also have at least a couple of positive comments to keep them motivated. Constructive feedback is a major managerial skill that needs to be utilised carefully and effectively. Management development and training on performance management and motivation is essential.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.

How to solve an employee dispute effectively

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Did you know that US research suggests that employees spend an average of 2.7 hours a week in conflict at work?

With employee engagement and retention being critical for all employers, the last thing any employer needs is an internal dispute that upsets employees and affects morale – and could potentially lead to an expensive and difficult case.

Most people hate conflict, but some conflict and difference of opinion is essential in a healthy business – how can we ensure it doesn’t get out of hand?

Jane Simms in an article in CIPD People Management has some helpful tips:

  • Keep it informal: Once a dispute becomes a formal issue, you are then bound to use the formal disciplinary, grievance and bullying procedures and all that goes with them. Aim to resolve issues as quickly as possible – when they are not major, and employees have not become entrenched in their views and opinions.
  • Training: Some businesses ‘hide’ behind formal procedures, and managers are often not prepared, or able, to deal with the issues. Train your managers to deal with managing conflict, having that difficult conversation, and spotting those tell-tale signs of employee conflict.
  • Hands on: Ensure you and your managers are engaged at all levels of your business, having the ability to sit down and have coffee in the canteen and talk can be the best way of gauging satisfaction and/or issues that are arising.
  • Mediation: Have mediation embedded as a normal first stop in conflict resolution so that employees are used to, and understand, the benefits of mediation at the early stages of conflict.
  • Employee engagement: Finally – take a genuine interest in your employees. If an employee is acting out of character and being difficult, a quiet conversation may well show that the employee has a personal issue that can be supported or resolved. Good managers with training can identify these issues quickly and nip them in the bud.

In summary – employee disputes can be very costly in terms of time, management input, morale and employee engagement. The best way to manage any dispute is to work quickly to eliminate the issues if possible. Voltedge Management works with our clients to support them in minimising the risk and to look at the best way of solving a conflict. Send an email to info@voltedge.ie to see how we can help.

Talent Acquisition – Current roles we have available for our clients

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients. This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates. We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Irish National Opera:

Executive Director

PCO Manufacturing:

Warehouse Operative

Production Operative – Pharma

Soprema Ireland:

Technical Support Assistant

Technical Sales Manager

Other:

Bookkeeper/Admin

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, September 11th, 2017

brexit-update-v3The U.K.’s reputation as a good place to live and work is taking a hit from Brexit. According to an annual survey of almost 13,000 expatriates of 166 nationalities by InterNations, a network of 2.8 million expats, the country is now perceived as less friendly to foreigners and less politically stable.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

5 Simple Tips for Successful Negotiations

Monday, August 14th, 2017

We all use our negotiation skills on a daily basis, from simple encounters we have like negotiating a fee for office supplies to more important relationships with our staff. Getting the conditions right for a positive and progressive engagement is really important in achieving a successful outcome for both parties.

Here are 5 simple steps that should make a difference:

  1. Prepare strategically for negotiations
  2. Generate top down support
  3. Influence and manage change
  4. Create and claim value at the negotiations meeting
  5. Engage as partners and not as opponents

 Prepare strategically for negotiations:

  • Set your strategy for reward – and agree this with the Senior Management Team (SMT)
  • Set ambitious targets
  • Clarify your priorities – again get input from the SMT group
  • Identify your BATNA – Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement , what can be achieved elsewhere if not at this meeting
  • Set your Walk Away Limits
  • Develop multiple bargaining packages
  • Assess the other party

 Generate top down support:

  • Identify the key stakeholders and involve them in the process
  • Establish context for the terms to be agreed and set a shared goal so that there is buy in
  • Communicate the negotiation plan and seek feedback before you get sign off
  • Maintain regular contact and communications with all of the stakeholders though out the process

Influence and manage change:

  • Link the strategy of what you need to achieve to a wider context so that there is a broader understanding of what needs to change
  • Continue to provide ongoing communications with employees through out the process and afterwards to ensure the commitment to the agreement is still there
  • Establish a shared understanding before you start the negotiations, long before you have you meeting

Create and claim value at the negotiations meeting:

  • Get all the issues on the table
  • Uncover interests and priorities
  • Be creative and identify new options and ideas
  • Link the issues and make simultaneous proposals of equitable value
  • Value the creation of trade off’s
  • Get a share of that value
  • Get the tone and atmosphere right – engage as partners

Engage as partners and not as opponents

  • Establish trust and repair any damaged relationships
  • Establish a process and timelines and make sure these are communicated to the stakeholders so that you can set expectations
  • Manage emotions and people’s problems as you progress through the process

Business professionals must know how to negotiate well to successfully close deals, avoid conflicts, and make the organisation a better place to work. Learning the right way to negotiate will lead to a successful outcome. Contact Voltedge Management to find out more about our courses on successful negotiation skills – email info@voltedge.ie or phone the office 01-5252914.

Talent Acquisition – Current roles we have available for our clients

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients. This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates. We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

The Rise Pharmacy:

Pharmacist – Full Time Contract Position

 

PCO Manufacturing:

Warehouse Operative

News from the Courts

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Ex Employee awarded €4,000 for discrimination claim not investigated by the employer.

In a recent Labour Court hearing, a judgement was made awarding an employee €4,000 on the basis that the employer had not taken sufficient steps to address her claim that she was being discriminated against by her fellow work colleagues. She claimed that she had experienced verbal abuse over a short space of time; after having worked with the organisation for 4.5 years, she left her job less than three weeks after first telling her boss about the abuse she suffered. However her claim that she was constructively dismissed was unsuccessful.

The main points from this case were that while the company did send her a copy of the handbook and asked for her to document the complaint so that they could deal with it as per their policy, they had not investigated the claim and failed to take action.

The judge felt that: “It is not, in the Court’s view, best practice for an employer to seek to deal with alleged infringements of the Employment Equality Act 1998 by directing employees to a basic Grievance Policy or a general Bullying Policy.”

He also added: “It is no defence for an employer who has failed to investigate complaints of the magnitude raised by the complainant in this case to seek to justify their inaction on the basis that the complaints were not presented to them in written format.”

“The Court expects an employer to be proactive and, if necessary, to take a statement of the complaint(s) from the alleged target of the discriminatory behaviour.”

Varying a WRC adjudication officer decision from 2016, the Court did find however that the employer did not have an adequate anti-discrimination policy and associated complaints procedure in place.

 

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, August 14th, 2017

brexit-update-v3

Allied Irish Banks says while Britain’s economy remains “relatively robust” after last year’s Brexit vote, there are “signs of weakness emerging” and the bank won’t invest more in the country until there is more clarity around U.K. leaving the EU, the Financial Times said.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, August 7th, 2017

brexit-update-v3

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar wants the Irish sea to become the post-Brexit border with the U.K., without any customs and immigration control at the land border with Northern Ireland, the Times reported.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, July 31st, 2017

brexit-update-v3Euro clearing could stay in the U.K. after Brexit, Irish central banker Philip Lane tells The Times.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Weekly Brexit Update

Monday, July 24th, 2017

brexit-update-v3

The U.K. will allow free movement for European Union citizens for up to four years after Brexit in a transitional deal, the Guardian reported.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base.

We want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues.

Email HRBrexit@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business understand Brexit and be ready for its impacts.

Changes likely on how internal investigations are managed

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Due to a recent High Court judgement, there may be some change coming in relation to how internal bullying investigations are handled. This judgement suggests that employees who are the subject of an internal bullying investigations have the right to legal representation at the internal employer investigation hearings and a right to “confront” or cross-examine fellow employees who may have made allegations against them, where there is a risk of dismissal.

Another aspect of this judgement is that it appears to suggest that this principle should be observed outside of disciplinary hearings, and could arise in non-disciplinary investigations conducted by employers where those investigations could subsequently lead to dismissal.

To date, the LRC Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures is based the application of “fair procedures” in relation to the disciplinary processes. Fair procedures is not a prescriptive term and is not defined by statute, however the principles in employment processes are derived from case law and the LRC codes of practice.

This new development suggests that, where investigative procedures are invoked that could lead to dismissal, the respondent employee cannot be deprived of a right to legal representation at investigation hearings or a right to cross-examine those who may have made accusations, even if they are fellow employees. This could mean that employees who are the subject of an investigation now may bring legal representation to investigation meetings or, an employee who is the complainant, could now be subject to cross examination by such lawyers during investigation hearings.

How to create an exciting Employee Value Proposition

Monday, July 17th, 2017

With the war on talent heating up all the time, and the lowest level of unemployment in Ireland since 2008, employers are all keen to ensure that they can attract, retain and continue to hold on to their employees.

So how can you ensure that your EVP is working for you and why should you be concerned about EVP?

An effective EVP that drives employee commitment and advocacy behaviour will also have a direct and profound impact on the loyalty of our customers.

So how can we develop or improve our EVP?

  1. Job satisfaction: Look at how you are measuring, challenging and rewarding (not just financial!) your people. Have you a good career progression plan in place or – if you are a small employer – a good development plan which includes training? Ensure that even the most mundane jobs have opportunity for change/development.
  2. Employer Brand: Does your employer brand extend to your recruitment, your corporate social responsibility and your business strategy? Ensure that you are offering potential employees and current employees the emotional attachment to your brand and your business.
  3. Managers: Employees invariably leave their managers and not their job/company. Make sure that your managers are well trained, supported and understand that their actions have a profound effect on each employee’s retention and their satisfaction in their job. Managers are the key to retention and engagement.
  4. Company policies: Are you able to offer flexible working, flexible benefits, training and development? Are there other policies and benefits that you can consider that will engage and retain your employees? Think about what individuals need/want that will bind them to your company.

EVP is not a one stop solution – it’s a strategic and operational approach to your employees and your business.

Contact Voltedge for a more comprehensive review of your EVP to find out how it can help your retention and employee engagement. Email info@voltedge.ie or ring the office (0)1 525 2914.

Get HR Brexit Ready with Voltedge Management

Monday, July 17th, 2017

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After a successful launch in Dublin of our HR Brexit Ready programme in June with our partners, European Movement Ireland, Ronan Daly Jermyn, Fragomen, Morgan McKinley, we will be visiting Cork and London in the early Autumn, speaking to Business Leaders, HR Professionals and local decision makers from Global Organisations, providing insight and advice on all of the HR related factors that need to be managed to ensure a successful Brexit journey.

We are very interested in hearing from anyone with specific HR Brexit needs, and our team of HR experts, employment law experts, immigration and talent experts are at hand to provide support and advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Email info@voltedge.ie or ring the office (0)1 525 2914.

Talent Acquisition – Current roles we have available for our clients

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients. This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates. We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Axonista:

Experienced Scrum Project Manager

Blue Insurance:

PPC & SEO Marketing Specialist

Joseph Walsh Studio:

Operations Manager

PCO Manufacturing:

Sales Executive – Internet and Phone Sales

Zeeko:

Psychology Researcher – Cyber Specialism for Tech Start-Up

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, July 17th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively and every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: I have an employee who has said that they feel bullied – what do I do?

A: If an employee feels they are being bullied the employer needs to be pro-active and immediately talk to the individual.

Questions to be asked:  

1)            When did this start?

2)            Have you had a number of incidents and can you give me details?

3)            Have you attempted to stop the behaviour of the alleged bully and what have you done?

4)            Have you talked to anyone else about this?

If the employee answers yes to the first 3 questions the employer needs to ask the employee if they wish to make a formal complaint or if they wish to keep the issue informal. If they don’t want to make a formal complaint the employer needs to still be confident that the issue is being resolved and not continuing, or put processes/resources in place to support the individual going forward.

If they wish to make a formal complaint, the employer will need to carefully follow their Bullying Procedure, appointing an independent investigator, ensuring fairness for all parties, and communicating clearly about the process.

Q: I want to recruit an employee for a few months but I don’t know what type of contract to offer them? Can I give them a contract that doesn’t have a definite date of termination?

A: Temporary contracts need to be carefully utilised to ensure that employers and employees are very clear about their responsibilities and the type of contract being applied. There are 2 main temporary contracts:

a) Fixed Term Contract: This is a contract with a fixed duration (e.g. 6 months) which is stated clearly in the written contract. If the employee is required after the termination date of this contract, employers should issue an additional contract to the employee, don’t let the contract roll over as this may result in an employee being entitled to permanency (after 12 months).

Fixed term contracts can be renewed for up to a maximum total period of 4 years, at which time the employer will have to make the employee permanent. The employer should also notify this employee of any permanent positions that they may wish to apply for.

b) Specified Purpose Contract: This is a contract for a specified purpose with no duration. An example would be a particular project with a finite life, where the employee is solely engaged on this project and leaves once the project is completed. The critical issue is ensuring that the employee is ONLY engaged under the strict terms of the contract and is not utilised for other work.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.

Talent Acquisition – Current roles we have available for our clients

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Social Recruitment modelling and Employer Branding

We manage recruitment projects for clients who are ramping for growth, helping them to define their company brand and promote themselves in the marketplace so that the targeted talent is attracted to the message and the opportunity with our clients. This includes all aspects of the recruitment process, such as job descriptions, benchmarking data on compensation and benefits, helping you make decisions on competitive packages for the various roles and business structures, advertising opportunities through social media and the company’s own network, screening and shortlisting for the hiring manager, scheduling interviews and doing all of the follow up with candidates. We can also manage the relationships with recruitment companies and other stakeholders as well as providing interview training and guidelines, work permit and visa applications, pre-employment screening, background education, professional and employment references etc.

Here is a list of some of the current roles we are working on for our clients.

Axonista:

Project Manager

Blue Insurance:

PPC & SEO Marketing Specialist

Accounts Executive

PCO Manufacturing:

Sales Account Manager

Simon Communities of Ireland:

Campaigns & Administration Intern

Zeeko:

Cyber Psychologist PhD – Innovation Associate

 

Other:

QP Contract North Dublin

Getting HR Brexit Ready

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Voltedge – in partnership with Fragomen (global immigration specialists), Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors and Morgan McKinley International Recruitment – held a breakfast session on Thursday 15th June. Chaired by Noelle O’Connell, Director of European Movement Ireland, the invitees were given great insight and support in their planning towards Brexit and Beyond.

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With 400,000 Irish people living and working in UK, and 114,000 UK passport holders resident in Ireland, many companies do not realise that they have potential issues looming in terms of freedom of travel, employment issues and real employee concerns over the impact of Brexit on them.

The Brexit journey will impact all businesses, whether trading with the UK or not, the broad implications of our closest neighbour no longer being part of the EU requires a HR Brexit strategy for all businesses and especially if companies are working with an international team or client base. Placing Brexit high on the HR Agenda is critical and Voltedge listed some of the key areas businesses need to consider alongside the commercial and economic business issues:

  • Communications: Develop a communication plan for employees, to ensure they are assured of your support and guidance on all personal related issues associated with Brexit, e.g. freedom to travel, family citizenship, pensions and benefits etc.
  • Internal staff dynamic: Includes being understanding of the potential issues and risks that employees may have in relation to colleagues and their political views, Brexit opinions, nationality and citizenship issues.
  • Management Support and Capability: Managers need to fully understand the implications of Brexit and have the training and capability to support employees.
  • Data protection: It is critical that every employer understands the data protection requirements and also the associated risks and challenges that will ensue with the onset of Brexit.
  • Policies: Employers need to review their policies that are impacted by Brexit – such as ‘Diversity in the Workplace’.

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The Brexit journey is an ever changing and challenging one, we want to support you in getting your business HR Brexit Ready and managing the dynamics that will begin to present themselves as the transition continues. Ring the office 01-5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to see how we can help your business become HR Brexit Ready.

Is Your Business HR Brexit Ready?

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Voltedge is delighted to be co-hosting an event on June 15th where our panel of UK and Irish experts will identify the HR roadmap to prepare your people and your business to navigate Brexit. With employees becoming more concerned about how Brexit may impact them personally this is a critical time to give clear and appropriate direction. As the countdown for the United Kingdom’s general election continues, the outcome will have a significant impact on the Brexit process and this in turn, will impact you business. 

This is the first of HR Brexit Events and we’d be delighted to speak to you further on any HR Brexit queries you might have and advise you on how to navigate your business and your team.

Please email admin@voltedge.ie with any queries.

How to Retain Key Employees

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

You help your employees grow to become their very best, so what happens when they tell you they are leaving?

A recent survey by IRN (Industrial Relations News) and CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) in Ireland found that 37% of private sector firms have made counter offers to retain staff (based on 585 member responses of CIPD and IRN subscribers). The terminology ‘retention payment’ is appearing again as a means of attempting to retain key employees.

This data showed that it was the larger companies who made counter offers (39%) with more non-union companies doing this, rather than unionised companies (29%).

Mary Connaughton, CIPD Ireland Director, stated that the use of counter-offers highlighted that many Irish employers are struggling to keep key people at current pay levels as employment opportunities in the labour market increase, raising questions about future talent pipelines.

Invariably if an employee has offered their resignation, you are too late, and even a counter-offer will not necessarily retain them.

So what can you do if one of your key employees tells you they are leaving? Here are few tips on how to hold onto your key employees:

  1. Listen.
  2. Make it clear that their role is significant.
  3. Foster employee development.

Pro-active regular progress discussions are key, ensuring that managers know if there are issues or concerns that need to be addressed. The simple action of saying ‘well done’ and giving fair but challenging objectives are also critical. Employees rarely leave a company because of their salary, it is more often because of a lack of career opportunity or difficulties with their manager.

A good leader will always support their employees. They will constantly try to help them in their personal development. Implementing a success planning programme to focus on developing your high potential employees will help significantly, as they will see a real career path and appreciation for their work and abilities – both actual and potential.

Your most important resource is talented people. Are you doing your best to retain your top talent? Contact us at info@voltedge.ie to see how he we can help your business.

HR Practices in Ireland – are we keeping up with technology?

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

CIPD Ireland recently undertook a survey of HR Practices in Ireland to see how the profession is responding to a changing and challenging workplace. This was timely given the increased difficulty in recruiting, retaining and engaging existing employees, and using HR analytics to drive business results.

The survey had 938 respondents, 61% in the private sector and 35% in the public sector, 4% were non-government organisations.

The survey gave some very interesting findings as follows:

  • 78% of companies in the public and private sector experienced skills shortages in the past 12 months. With unemployment dropping to 6.4% attracting and retaining employees is critical for business growth in Ireland.

In terms of technology:

  • 60% stated that they were using outdated/inflexible HR systems.
  • 35% stated that they had a lack of analytics and insight into workforce data
  • 35% had little or no opportunity to access analytics expertise.

This is very insightful given that 36% of all respondents state that their top priorities over the next 2 years are as follows:

  • 36% recruiting and resourcing
  • 37% culture change
  • 37% performance management
  • 54% employee engagement

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To ensure growth in the talent pipeline, respondents stated the following:

  • 46% are investing in their employer brand
  • 57% are increasing development opportunities
  • 63% are upskilling existing workforce

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You can access the actual survey here.

Your HR Questions Answered

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively and every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: We have just re-designed our new Employee Handbook and updated it. We have issued it to all our employees and one employee has said she is refusing to sign the form that states she has read, understands, and agrees to abide by the handbook – what should I do?

A: If you are not making any significant changes it is surprising that she is not agreeing to sign it. We would suggest that you sit down and talk to her and ask her why she has a problem with this. Does she have a genuine concern about a policy – if so, what is it – can you resolve the issue? Does she have some other grievance that she has not discussed?

If she is just being belligerent, we would suggest that you ask her politely one last time, and if she refuses, ask her to confirm verbally that she has read the handbook, then write a note to her personnel file stating this. However, we would advise that there must be an underlying issue, so suggest you keep talking to her to understand her issue(s).

Q: With Brexit looming, we want to check if all our sales employees have Irish or EU passports – we are a sales organisation and we frequently expect our sales guys to travel to UK, Europe and further so having a passport that is easy to get into countries with is essential. What should we do about this?

A: What about having a ‘Bring your passport to work’ day? Inform your employees that it is important to have details of their passports when they are travelling (in case they lose their passport, become ill or there are any problems abroad). If any employee is unhappy with doing this, talk to them and explain why it is important for you as the employer to have a copy of their passport. If they have a passport that may cause difficulties in the future after Brexit – at least you can then have a plan to deal with this.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.

National Workplace Wellbeing Day

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

March 31st marked Ireland’s third National Workplace Wellbeing Day. There was an increased number of companies participating in various events in the workplace this year in both the public and private sectors.

The aim of course was to host events that improved employee wellbeing through promoting better exercise and nutrition in the workplace.

Recent research shows that about a ¼ of workers take the recommended level of exercise for a healthy lifestyle each week, and also indicates that companies who support and promote a healthier wellbeing for staff, enjoy greater retention and engagement from their people.

The nationwide campaign aims to help people maintain a healthy balance in their lives so that they achieve their full potential, deal with challenging situations and prioritise the important aspects of their lives, which will help them be resilient and cope better with the demands that they encounter.

The National Workplace Wellbing Day was a great reason to mark the occasion in the workplace with some healthy and fun initiatives.

Leading Irish Female Executives – Their views on Motivation, Leadership and Change

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

 

Each year, March 8th marks International Women’s Day. It is a time for us to recognise and celebrate the successes and accomplishments of women across all aspects of society, both nationally and internationally.

This year Voltedge would like to celebrate 7 Irish female executives, each of whom have achieved outstanding accomplishments in their area of expertise. We asked them to share with us some insights on their experiences and how they draw inspiration from the environment around them, role models they had during their careers, the best advice they received, and what they see as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

 

Claire McHugh, CEO and Co-Founder of Axonista since 2010

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Claire: The world is full of things to draw inspiration from – usually other people’s stories, anything from film, music, books to personal relationships and being part of a community. I think, if you surround yourself with good people and challenge yourself to continually try new things, you will find no shortage of inspiration.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Claire: Several. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the business owners of every company I’ve worked at, and learned tons from them about how to run a business. When you run your own business, you find there are no shortage of amazing people willing to give their time freely to support you on your journey. I think Dublin is especially good for this because of the very supportive start up community here. This tight knit community, coupled with Dublin’s small size, leads to lots of serendipitous moments that enables you to meet new mentors, and bump into old ones, all the time.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Claire: There isn’t one single piece of advice that sticks out. There are moments when a piece of advice really resonates, or can show you a different perspective on something that you hadn’t previously considered. When people go out of their way to help you at no benefit to themselves – those are the really helpful and memorable moments for me.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Claire: Leading by example, and remembering to set an example worth following. At a time when so many political leaders are doing a shockingly bad job, I think it’s all the more important for business leaders to show that inclusiveness, diversity and collaboration are the real way to achieve greatness.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Claire: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling.

For me this embodies the principle that you must not let fear of failure prevent you from making bold and difficult choices. Fear can only be conquered by facing it, by going outside our comfort zone – and it’s really by challenging yourself in this way that you learn the most, about yourself, about others, about life. For me, in business and in life, some of the most exciting times are when facing fears!

 

Elizabeth Barry, Executive Board Director and Head of Corporate Affairs with Airbus Financial Services UC for 22 years

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Elizabeth: My inspiration comes from trying to have a clear path for my teams to follow so that their work lives give them both direction and an element of satisfaction. I teach that every challenge or change leads to something better but that a new ‘positive’ can only come about with an actively positive mindset, or input, from those who want it.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Elizabeth: If I had a mentor, it would actually be an ‘anti-mentor’. Some years ago, I had time to observe at length a very senior and respected member of Irish society with whom I worked, and who was a consummate bully. I decided that if I ever had an opportunity to set up and run an organisation, which I did, I would ensure an ethos of understanding and positive co-operation would emanate from the top. This has been my personal challenge ever since and not always possible!

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Elizabeth: Always ask for advice! It’s free and often incredibly useful. You will inherently know if it will work for you when you hear it. However, always ask it from another organisation and not internally.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Elizabeth: Finding staff who are as committed to their careers as they are to their ‘work/life balance’. It’s often a misunderstood issue and it’s a modern one. If staff enjoy work and a home life, hearing them trying to throw in something else like learning Mandarin while out at the gym and entertaining 20 for dinner at the weekend may just be what it sounds – too much. It is often less stressful to do just two things well and enjoy it.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Elizabeth:  My staff so often hear me saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ that I must really believe it. I firmly believe that there is always an upside – it may just not be so immediately obvious!

 

Fiona Heaney, Creative Director, Designer and Co-Owner of Fee G since 2003

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Fiona: Everywhere! Travel, nature, people. I am a visual person and get inspired all the time. However, it is important to take time out for yourself, to be energised and be able to be inspired.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Fiona: When I graduated, I got a job with a Director of a fashion company, Tom Mc Donald, who was at the end of his career. He was able to give me great advice and nuggets of information to help me on my journey. He was open and honest and willing to help me.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Fiona: Trust your instinct and always deliver your very best.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Fiona: I’m a Creative Business person and must constantly be creative & deliver new product & styles every season. This is relentless, with fashion being instantly available from catwalks to store and visibility on social media making it even faster workplace.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Fiona: I have to go with this one, as it’s in my office for 10+ years: “Good clothes open all doors” Thomas Fuller

 

Jennifer Cashman, Partner and the Head of the Employment Practice Group in Ronan Daly Jermyn since 2005

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Jennifer: Professionally, I draw inspiration from my clients’ businesses and the challenges they face on a daily basis – I have a keen desire to get to know their business and help them to achieve their commercial objectives and that inspires me to use the law in a commercially focused way to help them. Personally, my family and particularly my children, and their endless energy and enthusiasm for life, inspires me every day to try and be the best parent and role model that I can be.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Jennifer: I have had lots of role models and mentors along the way and too many to mention.  My parents have always had an unwavering belief in my ability to make it to a senior role in law and their work ethic and integrity have always been a great inspiration to me.  Frank Daly, a founding partner of Ronan Daly Jermyn, was a great role model in my early career in terms of his commercial and practical approach to the law and his energy and enthusiasm for the growth and development of our Firm.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Jennifer: Clients assume you know the law – what they also want from their lawyer is knowledge of their business and sector so that you can use your legal knowledge in a proactive and commercially focused way.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Jennifer: Change and more change!  Business leaders must be very adaptable to change and must keep up with technology trends in particular.  The business and commercial environment in which we all work is constantly evolving and there is much uncertainty in the global market.  This brings threats but also brings much opportunity so business leaders need to surround themselves with a strong, engaged team who can assist in spotting opportunities and meeting new challenges on a daily basis.  Keeping that team engaged is vital.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Jennifer: To thine own self be true!

 

Laura Shesgreen, Chief Financial Officer for Boxever Ltd. since 2015

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Laura: I tend to get inspiration by taking some time out. Sometimes it is as simple as going for a long walk.  The key for me is just having uninterrupted time which allows me time to think.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Laura: Yes, I have always had a role model who served as mentor at each stage of my career. I think having a mentor is super important as you chart a career as they can really help you navigate learnings and challenge you to reach further than you possible believe you can. I owe a big thank you to a lot of people who have helped me along the way.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Laura: Take every opportunity, even if it is unclear at the time where it will lead to – if it is something you believe you can commit to and enjoy –  go for it.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Laura: Leaders today are faced with many challenges ranging from the accelerated pace of change, constantly disruptive innovations, dispersed workforces and increasing regulatory & compliance demands.  If I was to pick out the biggest challenge that I believe leaders face I think it always comes back to people and ensuring they are building the right teams that can effectively deal with all of these complexities.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Laura: Clear Head, Full Heart, Can’t Lose.  I like this quote because I believe – Outcomes are made – they do not just happen.  Even if you fail, you have just found another way of not doing something.

 

Noelle O’Connell, Executive Director of European Movement Ireland for the last 6 years since 2011

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Noelle:  As a passionate sports fan, successes and accomplishments of our sportspeople never ceases to motivate me. In addition to being inspired from family and friends, colleagues – engagements and interactions with people you I’ve encountered in the many different walks of life have always inspired me and form the tapestry of who I am.  Having been fortunate to have worked in many different sectors and countries during my career, this has certainly proved to be the case.  In my current role, at a European, national level and with the challenges posed by Brexit, it’s fair to say, no two days have ever been the same.  Working for a bigger cause has kept me challenged, motivated and always on my toes.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Noelle: Growing up, the dedication and work ethic of my parents would have been my first marker.  In the political world, Mary Robinson’s election as President of Ireland stands out for me.   Starting out in my own career, after college, having a mentor was not something that I had the foresight to nurture or proactively seek to acquire, regrettably.  Working in different sectors, perhaps in the non-multinational sector, there may be less opportunities to have a mentor etc.  that experience is now why I always try to encourage my team to actively seek out a mentor / role model externally etc. in addition to aspiring myself to serve as a good role model and example by empowering through sharing learnings, advice and experience. I’m fortunate myself to have some outstanding mentors and various ad hoc ‘Sounding boards,’ whom I can ask for advice or guidance.  I would encourage people not to be shy or reticent in asking for advice or guidance – it shouldn’t be perceived as a sign of weakness but rather to approach the process from a position of strength.  It’s taking me some time to practise what I preach in this regard but I’m getting there.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Noelle: Have integrity and be authentic – Be true to yourself, your values and your beliefs.

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Noelle:  There are many challenges facing leaders every day; be it from the accelerated pace of change in terms of the world of work set against the backdrop of increasingly interconnected and more challenging geo political environment.  Being authentic, whilst delivering on the core business objectives in an increasingly complex, multifaceted and multiconnected world.  It’s not enough to work in silos or be a technical specialist in just one area.  Leaders nowadays have to be multi-skilled, all rounded and be able to motivate your people.  Without good talent and a shared commitment to fulfilling the organisation’s or business’ mission, it is harder to deliver on the organisation’s goals and objectives necessary to grow and develop the business.  For many leaders, I would venture, the challenge of striving for work life balance and learning to trigger the ‘off switch,’ and saying ‘no,’ probably exists across all sectors and businesses.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Noelle: ‘Do not go gentle into that good night…  Rage, Rage against the dying of the light.’  Dylan Thomas, – Leaving Cert poetry inspiration.   Carpe diem!

 

Olive Casey, HR Director for Amgen in Ireland and the Netherlands for the last 3 years

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Olive: In my current role I draw inspiration from being part of a company that makes medicine for grievous illness.  Knowing that everything we do is focused on serving patients’ needs is a uniting factor that pulls all of us together and drives us to do the best job we can.  Some of our own employees have been patients taking our drugs to battle against life threatening illness.  That inspires all of us to continuously try to improve.

Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?

Olive: I worked under a senior leader in the US who had a long and successful career.  He taught me that at the end of your career it is not just what you have achieved that will matter to you, but how you achieved it.  Leaders’ success today depends as much on their behaviours as it does on their results.  The “how” has become as important as the “what”.  I was lucky enough to have learnt this at an early stage in my career.

Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?

Olive: To believe in myself!

Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Olive: There is a lot of competition for talent in the market and employees have high expectations of their managers.  Leaders today are expected to be skilled in coaching staff and developing talent, in addition to having a strong functional expertise.  And many leaders feel unequipped to carry out this aspect of their role.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Olive: A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination – Nelson Mandela.

 

Today is an opportunity for Voltedge to celebrate these outstanding Irish female leaders and to extend our very best wishes to them for continued success in their careers, fulfilment and happiness in life and to thank them for their contribution to society.

If you have any enquiries regarding this article or any other topic we have covered, please call us our office 01 525 2914 or email us on info@voltedge.ie, we’d love to hear from you.

Voltedge Winner of BEST SME HR Initiative at HR Management and Leadership Awards 2017

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

 

We are delighted to share with you some exciting news for Voltedge at last week’s HR Leadership and Management Awards.

The annual HR Leadership and Management Awards are the benchmark for companies who demonstrate excellence in HR in Ireland.
For the past 2 years Voltedge Management was shortlisted in the category of Most Innovative Use of Technology and this year, we were delighted to be shortlisted in three categories – HR Team of the Year, Most Effective Employee Engagement Strategy and Best SME HR Initiative, and on Thursday night last, we were absolutely thrilled to pick up the trophy for the BEST SME HR Initiative.

award

Well done to everyone who was shortlistedand all the night’s winners.

We continuously strive to be a business partner of choice, supporting our clients to achieve great things through their people by using HR to deliver strategically in the business. Give us a call on 01-525 2914 or email info@voltedge.ie to find out more about the services we offer.

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11. Best SME HR Initiative

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, March 6th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively and every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Handling personal issues in the workplace:

Q: We have a manager who is experienced and well-regarded. However, recently he seems distracted and has been out of the office a lot, he is missing important meetings, and doesn’t seem to be managing his team well at all. Some of his team are now complaining, as they feel they are being ignored, and the workload is piling up. He has told another colleague that he is going through a rough patch and may be getting a divorce. How do I manage this?

A: Unfortunately, nearly everyone in the workforce goes through a difficult patch personally, sometimes they manage and keep it from disrupting their work, others not so much. In this case, his personal difficulties are seriously impacting on his work, and his performance.

However, given that his is a valued employee, it is important to be supportive – and he may not actually be aware of the impact of his personal difficulties on his work. Have his manager sit down with him and have a private conversation about how he is getting on – how does he feel he is doing? Does he have any issues he needs to discuss? If he is open, then you could offer counselling or refer him to your company doctor. However, it’s important for him to understand that his current behavior is having a negative impact, perhaps he needs a short period away from work to sort things out? You could offer to support his workload for a short period also to get him back to normal. Tackling issues like this early will – in nearly every case – work better for everyone.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.

Managing the Probation Period

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Most permanent contracts of employment provide for a probationary period, usually of six months in duration. The purpose of the probation period is to allow the employer a fixed period of time to evaluate the suitability of the new employee for their role based on performance and behaviour.

Probation periods can often be misunderstood, especially when it comes to the need to terminate employment during the probationary, or extended probationary, period – termination during this period remains a tricky subject for employers.

It is a common misconception that employees can be terminated at will during the probation period. However, employers do need to carefully follow natural justice and fair procedures.

Employee with less than one years’ service are not covered by the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 – 2015, however, they are covered by the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 (as amended) and The Employment Equality Acts, 1998 – 2011 and may pursue a claim through these avenues if they feel a dismissal was wrongful or in breach of their equality rights.

Key points for successful probation management:

  • Plan your probation period as part of the On-boarding process for all your new hires
  • Ensure you have clearly set out the length of time for the probation period and that the probation can be extended, and for how long.
  • Include in the contract that employment is subject to a probation period, how long and how long it can be extended by.
  • Have procedures on how you will manage issues during the probation period – specifying that you will implement an abridged version of your disciplinary procedures during this period or have a separate probation procedure.
  • Have regular review points during the probation period to give feedback and guidance on performance or company standards.
  • Whatever your defined procedures are, ensure you apply and follow them fairly during the probation period, this may well come under scrutiny if it is being looked at by the Courts. The Labour Court has awarded damages to the employee due lack of fair process, even though the dismissal is deemed to be justified.
  • Document each stage of the process, where applicable; meetings, warnings, extensions, confirmations, terminations.
  • Manage the probation process in a timely manner – if the period of probation passes and you have not confirmed anything with the employee, it may be too late to commence probation procedures a month or so after the probation end date.

Length of the probation period

Most commonly a probation period will last six months with an option to extend up to or by a further 5 months. For certain employment types, that may require a longer period of training or assessment, the initial probation period can be for 9 months with an option to extend by a further 2 months. Equally, for roles that may require an employee to be effective more quickly, a shorter probation period could be implemented.

Care should be taken where the period of probation, or extended probation, is longer than six months as, once contractual notice is added to the period of notice, dismissals in these cases could come within the scope of the Unfair Dismissals Acts and the employer may have to justify a dismissal under those Acts. Employees come under the protection of these acts once their 12 months’ service is completed.

Summary

It is crucial that you have the correct procedures in place for managing the probation period and that probation is clearly outlined in the contract of employment. Having a good starting point with clear expectations of what performance and conduct is required during this period, the support and training that will be provided and the mechanism that will be used to assess outcomes will make for easier resolution of issues, should they arise, at the point of review. In all cases where a dismissal occurs employers must ensure they give due regard to general principles of natural justice and provide employees with a fair process.

Get Help Managing Performance

We have developed a very practical workshop for managers on “Effective Management of the Probation Period” which just might be the toolkit you need to get a better outcome from your new employees. Contact us on 01 525 2914 or info@voltedge.ie to request some additional information on our range of services to help your performance management skills.

Laura Banfield, HR Consultant

 

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, February 13th, 2017

We aim to give our readers and followers the best advice when it comes to managing people effectively and every month you can read a digest of some HR questions that might be relevant for you.

Q: I have a new employee who is on a 6-month probation – she is an administrator. She is not really working out -can I just give her 1 weeks’ notice and tell her to leave?

A: There is a pre-conceived notion that probation allows employers to terminate an employee who is on probation for little or no reason and that there is no come-back.

Unfortunately, this is not true, and we are seeing more and more cases (mainly brought under the discrimination legislation) where aggrieved ex-employees have said that they were not treated fairly during their probation period.

The golden rules are:

  • Have a clear probation clause in the contract, giving the option to extend probation up to a maximum of 11 months. The probation should allow for a one week notice period during the probation time.
  • Have a good job description so that the employee fully understands the job they are supposed to be doing.
  • Meet the employee at least every 2 weeks during the probation period to review how they are getting on, talk about any issues, clarify if the employee is not doing the work expected/or not doing the work well enough, and give them objectives to improve.
  • If the employee is not suitable, make sure that they understand that their probation performance is not reaching an acceptable level, and that they may not pass probation. When informing them that they are unsuccessful and that you are giving them notice, be very clear about the reasons and that you have supported them through the process.
  • And finally, treat the employee fairly and be supportive. This can be a challenging time for the employee, and with your support, most new employees will make the grade.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.

HR Leadership and Management Awards 2017

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Voltedge is delighted to announce that – for the third year running – we have been short-listed in the HR Leadership and Management Awards in 2017 – Best SME HR Initiative, HR Team of the Year, Most Effective Employee Engagement Strategy. 
Fingers crossed for the final that is to take place on 2nd March 2017!

Your HR Questions Answered

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Every month, we answer HR questions and give the best advice to our readers and followers.

Q: We have a sales manager who has a very large contact list in his LinkedIn profile which he uses for sales development. He has now handed in his notice – can we insist that he gives us all his contact details?

A: This is a very contentious issue and we would suggest that you inform him that he has an obligation to give you all his contacts as he has been working with them for your Company. In the future, we strongly recommend that you develop a separate LinkedIn policy which will apply to all employees, and you might also want to set up a new LinkedIn profile for sales employees when they join the Company and you then have definite ownership, we often see companies paying for a premium LinkedIn account for sales employees so that they have clearer ownership of the contacts.

If you need advice on HR issues, drop us an email at info@voltedge.ie or contact the office for any additional information 01-5252914.

Pre-retirement Planning Programme

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

For many people, the perception of ‘retirement’ has changed from the idea of a few years of ‘pure free-time’ to the concept of a phase of our lives with many opportunities, possibly including ‘working’ in some form.

Retirement planning can be hard to understand and difficult to manage.

That is why we are offering you a one-day programme on Thursday 24th November to help you reflect on future lifestyle options, to decide on what you want and to plan for that in the future.

The programme includes a one-day small-group workshop followed by an individual coaching session a few weeks later.

Our workshop facilitator Carl Brady has over 20 years’ experience in facilitation and in management and leadership development and coaching.

He will guide you to reflect on your hopes and concerns for the future, to identify likely changes, and to examine your motivations for future activities such as volunteering, study, leisure, and paid work. You will also explore possible plans covering such areas as health, finance, legal, home, relationships, and other interests.

Contact info@voltedge.ie or ring the office on 01 5252914 to book your place.

Be ready for change!

Checking candidate’s social media – are there risks?

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

You have applied for an exciting new job and are at final interview stage. However, you recently tweeted a controversial tweet – could this affect your chances of getting the position? A lot of employers would say yes because they are actively checking candidate social media sites – including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.

New Apps such as ‘Charlie’ and ‘Crystal knows’ (widely used in U.S.) are being utilised more by employers in UK. Charlie checks your calendar and then combs through hundreds of online courses before sending a one-page document giving the lowdown on all the people you are due to meet that day. Crystal Knows analyses public data – but these Apps are only the start of this ‘social media information industry’ – and we will see more Apps developing to give us even more information on individuals and organisations in the future.

The war for talent will drive this opportunity – as companies try to source, attract and analyse candidates as to their ‘fit’ into the company – cultural fit is becoming more and more important – particularily when employers need to look at more diverse applications.

David D’Souza, Head of London CIPD, states that there are obvious concerns around people using technology to aggregate information in a way that they would never have envisaged it being used. Obviously LinkedIn is a useful professional social media tool for employers, and is a very legitimate method to check individuals. However, Facebook is not a professional business site – it is a personal social media site that is not intended for use as a recruitment screening tool, and it’s use in that context is a worrying trend.

In terms of data protection, any information posted on social media is available to employers, so the advice to employers is to use social media knowledge in a professional and fair manner, whilst potential employees should always take the view that any social media inputs should be uploaded very carefully, with privacy settings being checked regularly, and any controversial photos or tweets being uploaded with the knowledge that they may be viewed in the future.

Managing Mental Health

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Managers are having to manage employees with many different mental health issues and they are held responsible – we reviewed an article by Des McDermott in IRN. Des McDermott is a Barrister and previously worked as a HR Management Consultant.

The Germanwings air crash tragedy highlighted the difficulties in both knowing that, and managing, an employee who has mental health issues. The Germanwings tragedy happened on 24th march 2015 where a co-pilot intentionally crashed the plane. Andreas Lubitz had a history of depression and had delayed the renewal of his medical certificate.

1) Should a person with depression be placed in a position of high responsibility?
Depression affects more than 450,000 people in Ireland at any one time so this is an issue that is near impossible to manage. Depression is being treated much more effectively and the social stigma associated with mental disorders is removing. However, depression can lead to very serious outcomes (including suicide). Some positions need very careful medical assessment to assure the employer that there are no mental health risks.
2) Discrimination: It is illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability and a wide range of mental health disorders are classified as disabilities, including stress, depression, anxiety, alcoholism and schizophrenia. Employers are obliged to make ‘reasonable accommodation’ for staff with disabilities, however an employer is not obliged to recruit, promote or retain an individual who refuses to be available to carry out the duties of the job. Also, and employer who is concerned about an employee has the right to send the individual for medical assessment.
3) Employee’s right to keep their health issues secret: Currently Irish legislation does not require a person to disclose that they have a disability. Employers are strongly advised to use the option of pre-employment medicals and medical referrals, if required, where the employee seems to be having either physical or mental difficulties or a second opinion is required.

Key points for employers:

a) Depression and mental disorders are extremely common and can be managed in many cases very well within the workplace
b) It is illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability in employment
c) Employers should make ‘reasonable accommodation’ for staff with disabilities and there is help for employers both in advice and grants
d) However- no employer has to recruit, promote or retain a person in a position if they are not fully competent to do the job
e) As in 3) above an employer has the right to undertake a pre-employment medical and send an employee for a company medical assessment if concerned
f) Confidentiality is paramount
g) The right to privacy is qualified however and the employer has a duty of care to all his/her employees