Posts Tagged ‘Management’

Your HR Questions Answered

Wednesday, December 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: Can I let my new hire go during their probation period if they aren’t working out?

A: It is a common misconception that employees can be terminated at will during the probation period. Employers need to carefully follow natural justice and fair procedures throughout the probationary period.

Employee with less than one years’ service are not covered by the Unfair Dismissals Acts, however, they are covered by the Industrial Relations Act, and The Employment Equality Acts and may pursue a claim through these avenues if they feel a dismissal was wrongful or in breach of their equality rights.

Q: How long should a probation period be?

A: Most commonly a probation period will last six months with an option to extend up to or by a further 5 months.

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.

Q: What can I do to make sure I successfully manage the probation period?

A: Make sure you have regular review points with the new employee during the probation period to give feedback and guidance on performance or company standards. Document each stage of the process, where applicable; meetings, warnings, extensions, confirmations, terminations. Plan your probation period as part of the On-boarding process for all your new hires so that they fully understand it from the outset.

For further advice or information on company policies, please contact our Operations Manager Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie.

Voltedge Management

Festive Season Wellbeing

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Here we are again another year has flown past and I’m still ruminating over all my New Year Resolutions from January! My resolution for this week is to try and follow these simple tips to get me through to January feeling relatively healthy and ready to make some more New Year Resolutions for 2019.

We all know Christmas can take its toll between over-indulging in food and alcohol, late nights, meeting end of year deadlines and the stress and pressure of having everything “perfect”.  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 2019 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, and 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.

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!

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, Christmas can add huge strain financially 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.

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. At family gatherings and when 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 can become overwhelming.  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.

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.

Enjoy, be kind, be safe and be healthy. Happy Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Managing the Christmas Period

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

The Christmas period can pose tricky issues to even the most seasoned of managers. Here we cover the key areas that employers might be faced with:

Do our policies apply outside of work?

Yes, your company policies extend to cover work related events. The most relevant policies that apply in these circumstances include: Social Media, Dignity at Work, Harassment and Bullying, Disciplinary and Grievance policies.

 How can I prevent issues occurring?

  • Before a Company run or sponsored event, remind staff that they should abide by company policies – even when they are not on Company premises
  • Ask managers to be vigilant at the event to ensure good conduct and behaviour is being observed

Consider how you provide alcohol as an employer at a company event – there are options that can be helpful such as using a drinks voucher system instead of a free bar.

What do we do if we receive a complaint?

Complaints should be dealt with in the normal manner through your grievance, disciplinary or other procedures. Dealing with any issues as quickly as possible should also help minimise potential issues.

Managing Public Holidays

Which employees are entitled to a public holiday?

 An employee’s entitlement is dependent on the nature of their contact;

  • All full time employees are entitled to the public holiday regardless of length of service
  • Part time/casual employees are only entitled where they have worked at least 40 hours in the five weeks ending on the day before the public holiday.

 What payments are employees entitled to for a public holiday?

Employees who qualify for public holiday benefit will be entitled to one of the following:

  • A paid day off on the public holiday
  • An additional day of annual leave
  • An additional day’s pay
  • A paid day off within a month of the public holiday

It is at the employer’s discretion to decide which benefit will apply.

How do I calculate public holiday pay? 

  • Employees who work the public holiday or who are normally rostered to work on the day the public holiday falls, then they are entitled to the equivalent pay as the last working day before the public holiday falls.
  • Employees who are not normally required to work on the day the Public holiday falls are entitled to one fifth of their weekly rate of pay.

Payment for a Public Holiday is regular payment including regular shift allowances, but not variable pay such as overtime.

Are employees entitled to payment for a public holiday if they are leaving employment?

If an employee has worked the week ending prior to the public holiday AND they have worked for the employer for 4 continuous weeks, then they are entitled to payment for that public holiday even though their employment has finished.

If the public holiday falls on a weekend what do we do?

If a Public holiday falls on a weekend it does not automatically move to the following Monday as a lot of people might assume. Employers have a number of options:

  • Move the public holiday to the following Monday: The most common approach is to move the public holiday to the next working day and give employees that day off.
  • Recognise the public holiday on the day it falls: If an organisation normally works on a public holiday, the organisation can provide the following to the employee for working that day: A paid day off within a month of the public holiday, OR a day’s pay in lieu, OR an additional day’s pay.

Employers must give employees at least 14 days’ notice of how they will operate and which benefit will apply to them.

Time Off During Adverse Weather

If an employee cannot come to work due to bad weather, do I have to pay them?

If the organisation is open for work and the employee cannot attend, then they are not entitled to payment for that day. You can give employees the option to take a holiday day as an alternative to unpaid leave, although you cannot force them to take a holiday.   Having an ‘Exceptional leave policy’ in place is good practice to cover you in the event of these occurrences.

Employers can also look at alternatives for the employee, if appropriate:

  • Can they work from home?
  • Can they perform their duties on an alternative day?

If our place of work is closed due to bad weather, do I have to pay employee?

Yes, if the employee is available for work then they are entitled to pay for this day, even if the premises are unable to open.

If you are unsure about what arrangements to put in place in your own business, get in touch today with our team of HR experts.

Laura Banfield, HR Consultant

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

Autumn Development Programme

Monday, August 14th, 2017

We have developed a series of Management Development modules commencing this autumn for managers who either have not had an opportunity for Formal Management training in the past or for managers who are new to the role and need support transitioning into new areas of responsibility.

Who should attend

If you have moved from a supervisor role or are new to management, this programme will be your management tool kit to assist you in being a successful manager and ensuring that you have the skills and ability to lead a focused and motivated team.

If you are an experienced manager but just never had the opportunity for formal course work on any of these key management modules, this series offers you the opportunity to be with a small group of peers to fine tune your management skills, enabling you to be as effective a team manager as possible.

What will be covered

We have developed a series of 8 modules to choose from, managers can decide to attend all or some, whichever are most relevant to their needs. We will continue to develop programmes to meet the demands of management responsibility in organisations today, helping managers to be effective communicators and leaders.

  1. Understanding your role as Manager
  2. Overview of Employment Law and key company policies
  3. Building a motivated and engaged team
  4. Managing the generational differences/expectations
  5. Building a culture of trust and understanding perceptions
  6. Selection interview skills – how to assess key competencies in recruitment and promotional interviews
  7. Talent Management – achieving high performance
  8. Effective Conflict Management

Additional support customised to your needs

In addition to the course work from these modules, our Management Development Programme provides for individual 1:1 coaching on all of these specific areas and more, so that you can apply the learning from the course into your day to day role.

Our qualified coaches will work with you to identify the challenges you face in your role and set personal goals to be achieved as a result of attending this programme. The coaching sessions, which are 1 – 1.5 hours long, will take place between the modules, enabling you to apply your new skills and acquired techniques immediately. This way, your learning outcome will be more effective and will become intuitive.

At the end of the programme you will be in a position to understand your team better, identify the real challenges you face as a manager, and set personal goals for your own personal development and progression as a manager.

For further details of dates and costs, contact our team on  admin@voltedge.ie or phone the office 01-5252914.

Your HR Questions Answered

Monday, August 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: I run a call centre and have a major issue with turnover – how can I improve this and hold onto good employees?

A:  Call centres – by their nature – tend to have a high turnover. However, good employers can at least extend the length of service by tending to the little things – such as caring when an employee has a sick relative, contacting them if they are out sick and asking how they are, celebrating a big customer win with small things – chocolates, pizza, a night out. Have you thought about celebrating each person’s birthday with a card from the CEO, offering flexibility in as much as you can in a call centre schedule. Sometimes employees feel they have no control over their day as they are sitting on the phone for a very strict amount of time. Offer a slot of time to achievers where they can take time out to take a break or get involved in a cross-functional project.

Q: My recent employee focus survey says that the senior management team are disengaged – what can I do about it?

A: This is a frequent issue in medium and large organisations, and the senior management team are always so busy that this may not be a priority.

Make sure that the senior managers are getting coffees and having meals with employees in their canteen or locally. Ensure that they are introduced to all new starters – where practicable. Look at the meetings that a senior manager can attend intermittently. Consider breakfast sessions where they have breakfast or lunch with a cross section of employees. Ensure that the senior management team have a rota to visit satellite offices and engage with employees.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

 

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!

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!

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