Posts Tagged ‘Management’

Covid-19 Response Support Testimonial

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Voltedge has developed a range of business supports to assist SME’s to manage the challenges of the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace. There is no one complete solution to manage the challenges experienced as a result of COVID-19 in the workplace. Every environment is different, and our services are designed to enable your business move forward with confidence at this time.

Here’s what one of our clients has to say about our Covid-19 Response Support.

“NTRON, a critical manufacturing site for our corporate Group PST, engaged Voltedge Management to develop our COVID-19 Business Response Plan to follow government protocol promptly. It was essential that we created a safe and fully operational workplace where our employees could come to work in the knowledge that their health and safety was safeguarded to the highest standards and that our business would not be adversely impacted by any risk presented by Covid-19.

Voltedge Management provided us with a dedicated expert who worked with the NTRON management team to develop a comprehensive plan and supporting procedures including the necessary training and worker representative supports. This has been significant in providing us with the security and knowledge that our workplace is compliant and that we have taken all of the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus within our workplace.

An added bonus for us was when we received recognition from our parent company PST for “COVID-19 response plan and development of “return to work” plan is a PST Best Practice”.   This was without doubt due to the excellent support we received from Voltedge Management and we would highly recommend engaging their support in getting your business COVID-19 secure.”

John Dunne, Finance and Accounting Director at NTRON

 

We will work with you to identify what your specific business needs are and develop a plan that is relevant and cost effective for your business. This is a good opportunity to review your current handbook and policies to ensure they are fully compliant with all the latest legislation. Contact Voltedge for the most up to date information and advice. Email us at info@voltedge.ie or ring our office 01 525 2914.

Inspiration from some of Ireland’s Leading Female Executives to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Voltedge Management in marking National Women’s Enterprise Day today 14th of October, celebrates these eight outstanding female executives, each of whom have achieved exceptional accomplishments in their area of expertise.

We met up with them (virtually of course) and asked them to share with us some of their career and business insights and how they draw inspiration from the environment around them, role models they had during their careers, some advice on coping during Covid-19, and what “Stronger Together” means to them.

We are thrilled to have this opportunity to celebrate these outstanding 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 inspiring words and the contribution they make to businesses, the workplace and to society generally.

Click here to read inspiration from Tracey Donnery, Executive Director at Skillnet

Click here to read inspiration from Larissa Feeney, CEO at Accountantonline

Click here to read inspiration from Sinead Glennon, CFO at Risk Systems

Click here to read inspiration from Dee Kehoe, CPD Director Engineers Ireland

Click here to read inspiration from Geraldine Magnier,  Director & Co-founder of Idiro Analytics

Click here to read inspiration from Deirdre Mortell, CEO at Rethink Ireland

Click here to read inspiration from Anne O’Connell, Principal AOC Solicitors

Click here to read inspiration from Eileen Townsend, Head of Organisational Development IAASA

Voltedge Management is thrilled to have this opportunity  to celebrate these outstanding 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 inspiring words and the contribution they make to businesses, other females and to society generally.

If you have any enquiries or comments you’d like to share with us, 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.

Inspiration from Eileen Townsend, Head of Organisational Development in the IAASA, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Eileen Townsend, Head of Organisational Development in the IAASA to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

IAASA is responsible for the supervision of the accounting profession in Ireland, comprising 40,030 members of Prescribed Accountancy Bodies (‘PABs’) in business and practice in the State. IAASA is the competent authority for the oversight of statutory auditors in Ireland, including oversight of the manner in which the five Recognised Accountancy Bodies (‘RABs’) perform the functions assigned to them in law in respect of statutory auditors, namely approval and registration, continuing education, quality assurance systems and investigative and administrative disciplinary systems.

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

Eileen: I am Head of Organisational Development and Standards & Policy in the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA). It’s a varied and enjoyable remit with responsibility for innovation, communications, adoption of auditing standards in Ireland and a range of policy issues in accounting and auditing regulation. I’ve been Head of Standards & Policy for 2 years, Head of Organisational Development for 1 and was previously Head of Regulatory & Monitoring Supervision for 6 years.

 

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Eileen:  I draw inspiration from a wide range of sources. People – my colleagues who bring different viewpoints and challenge me to improve daily, my children with their fresh perspective on everything and joy in simple things, people who’ve achieved great things and others who’ve overcome significant challenges. Books – I love reading, particularly books presenting new concepts (Brené Brown, Adam Grant, Tasha Eurich are current favourites). Podcasts – I listen to a variety of topics from wellbeing to leadership to documentaries and they often spark new ideas.

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

Eileen: I’ve been lucky to have had several significant mentors in my career, who valued my strengths, gave me insightful feedback and advice, and invested their time in my professional development. Working in regulation has its own unique challenges and when I was new to it, Helen Hall (now CEO of the Policing Authority), was instrumental in guiding me to clarify my purpose and values around regulation and also in developing the perseverance and resilience needed to achieve the vision.

Voltedge: What is the best piece of advice you received since Covid-19 hit the world?

Eileen: I read an article early on during lockdown about accepting the impact of a pandemic and not to judge ourselves (or others) by the standards we set in normal times. That advice resonated with me at a time when I was juggling work with home schooling, childcare, supporting cocooning relatives and feeling that I was dropping at least one of those balls daily.

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered during the pandemic?

Eileen: I’m spending a lot more time at home, with no commute and fewer places to go, so the pace of life is less hectic. I’m also expanding my family’s culinary experience, although with mixed success! I’m getting out for a walk most days and despite living in the same area for the past 14 years, I’ve discovered new places to wander, even within 5km.

Voltedge: In light of so much remote working and social distancing, what practices or approach have you taken to try to communicate and collaborate effectively during this time and to support employees?

Eileen: All of our people have been working from home since March and we put a focus on staying connected and prioritising wellbeing. We’ve been using video conferencing to chat day-to-day, for weekly team meetings, to schedule virtual coffee breaks and to check-in regularly with each other. We introduced an online social networking tool to encourage and maintain our informal interactions. We surveyed staff to assess their needs, developed our intranet to provide wellbeing resources and made external wellbeing supports available also. Flexibility is essential for many employees at the moment, so we’ve implemented increased flexibility around working patterns too.

Voltedge: What does the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ mean to you?

Eileen: It means that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts – that when we support each other, collaborate, share our time, knowledge and experiences, when we value our differences, when we amplify each other’s voices, then we build a community that can achieve real and impactful change for the better.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Eileen: Maya Angelou said ‘You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have’. I love the possibility in this idea, the call to encourage and nurture creativity, to build the creative muscle. While innovation requires more than creativity, building creative capability at individual and organisational level is a vital precursor to the implementation of innovation. Taking the perspective that doing it leads to more of it, is empowering and inspiring.

Inspiration from Anne O’Connell, Founder and Principal of Anne O’Connell Solicitors, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Anne O’Connell, Founder and Principal of Anne O’Connell Solicitors to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

Anne O’Connell Solicitors provides dedicated, expert employment legal advice that is tailored to every single unique client and their equally unique requirements. Working with employers, employees, and consultants, the Firm offers a wide array of services, training and seminars, and a 24/7 employment law hotline dedicated exclusively for the Firm’s employer clients. Anne O’Connell Solicitors was ranked as a Leading Law Firm for Employment Law in Ireland by Legal500 within its first year and was elevated in rankings the following year.

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

 Anne: Founder and Principal of Anne O’Connell Solicitors, an employment law specialist firm.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Anne: I draw my inspiration from many sources.

I draw it from what my parents taught me when growing up.

–              My Dad, who sadly passed away in 2018, always said that “there is no such thing as can’t”, and that “where there is a will there is a way” and giving up was not an option. My Dad was also adamant that when we did anything it had to be done right, whether it was mucking out a stable, sweeping a yard or shining his shoes, if I didn’t do it right I had to do it again. He instilled a sense of pride in us all and that we always had to strive to be the best that we could be. Being the second eldest of 4 with an older sister and two younger brothers, this often resulted in me pushing myself harder to fight my corner.

–              My Mum always seemed to manage to find a way to resolve any issues that arose, whether work related or to help friends or family. She is the ‘go to’ person to solve a problem and to make things happen. She always taught us how important it is to treat everyone with respect.

I also draw my inspiration from sports – the training, time, dedication and teamwork involved. The strength needed to pick yourself up after a defeat and continue or to battle through an injury or illness.

As I love to look at matters from different angles and try to find new and different ways of approaching issues, I find inspiration from certain businesspeople and leaders who apply different ideas and visions.

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

Anne: My career started in 1993 when I started my law degree and as I am qualified for over 19 years, I have had many role models and mentors throughout my career. My mentors range from solicitors and partners in the firms I worked in to my friends and colleagues in different firms.

My godmother however is the stand out role model for me as she is a brilliant business woman and was never afraid of any challenge. She expected the best from everyone she worked with and didn’t suffer fools lightly. She worked at a time when the business world was male dominated but she was always well able for any businessman. She is very clever and savvy.  She was subjected to many critics and certain adversity but she stayed true to who she was and didn’t lose herself. She is a very strong and yet caring person and has done so much for so many people.

Voltedge: What is the best piece of advice you received since Covid-19 hit the world?

Anne: Focus your energy on what you are able to control and not the things that you can’t.

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered during the pandemic?

Anne: – I got the room to just breath and to catch up on things, which I didn’t realise how much I needed.

– I was so grateful to have adopted a dog from the DSPCA last November. He was a game-changer in my life and a lifesaver during the lockdown.

– I discovered a lovely park nearby and actually heard the birds sing, which I didn’t before In Dublin and now I love to hear the birds, I find it so calming, especially as it makes me think of my late Dad.

– I discovered that my experience with breast cancer made me more resilient during Covid-19 and probably better able to cope.

Voltedge: In light of so much remote working and social distancing, what practices or approach have you taken to try to communicate and collaborate effectively during this time and to support employees?

Anne: We had daily zoom meetings and zoom Friday evening drinks. We did our High Fives every day and kept each other laughing and focused. Most of us returned to the office on 29 June and all of us returned in August. We were thankfully already set up to work remotely and had implemented the practice before Covid-19 hit. We have rotas for different members of the team to work from home when they wish. We had a health and wellness talk for the team. We set up a separate WhatsApp group called AOC Minds for exchanging good podcasts for mental health and nice quotes and other aids for each other and for anyone of the team to be able to say if they are not having a good day. We are also currently setting up an EAP programme.

Voltedge: What does the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ mean to you?

Anne: It is such a powerful slogan as it is so true. Any time someone refers to me having set up on my own, I always correct them that I never set up on my own, I had a lot of help and support and two others working with me from the start. I would never have been able to set up on my own. I believe that strength is in a team and that while there may be good leaders, leaders are worthless without a good team. A wheel needs its spokes to turn. As humans we need each other and working together is not only the best way but the only way that anything can be achieved. Our voices are louder when heard as one and our actions more productive when done together. When anything is bound together it is much stronger than being on its own.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Anne: “She turned her can’t into cans, her dreams into plans” – this quote kept me going whenever I doubted myself or felt that life was difficult. When I set up the Firm I added to this quote that with the support of others everyday “she turns her plans into reality”.

Inspiration from Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

Rethink Ireland (formerly Social Innovation Fund Ireland) was created by Government to stimulate philanthropy and back social innovations. They raise philanthropic funds from companies, individuals and families, which are matched euro for euro by Government from the Dormant Accounts Funds. With these funds, they provide cash grants and business supports to support the best social innovations in Ireland to grow and spread.

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

 Deirdre: I am CEO of Rethink Ireland for 6 years now.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Deirdre: I am inspired by the donors and awardees of Rethink Ireland that I deal with every day. They get up in the morning with a desire and plan to turn Ireland into the kind of country we all want to live in – more equal, more sustainable, fairer – and they each play different roles in getting us there.

 

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

Deirdre: Sally Anne Kinahan was my first boss, as head of Oxfam Ireland. I was in my mid 20’s and she stretched me, threw me in the deep end of the pool, rescued me when I was drowning, and saved my backside when I messed up. She is also great fun to work with, a huge risk taker, and went on to a great career herself.

Voltedge: What is the best piece of advice you received since Covid-19 hit the world?

Deirdre: Breathe, remember to breathe.

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered during the pandemic?

Deirdre: Working at home meant I could spend much more time outdoors than I normally could in spring / summer.

Working remotely meant I was able to leave Dublin this summer and live and work in rural Cork, which was an absolute pleasure. City life is wonderful in the winter but singing to the cows on summer evenings is hard to beat. They like it too.

Voltedge: In light of so much remote working and social distancing, what practices or approach have you taken to try to communicate and collaborate effectively during this time and to support employees?

Deirdre: We hold a Huddle on Zoom for 30 mins twice a week to have a chat, make announcements, and keep in touch. All staff are invited but it is not mandatory. We now also do a weekly email update to all staff – something which was only occasional before. I really enjoy the chance to connect with staff at all levels, especially new staff that have joined during the lockdown, who I may have never met in person.

We have allocated some staff resource to Wellbeing and tips and challenges are shared on Slack (our internal communications app) regularly. Everything from a cocktail making competition for the month of October (suggested by a staff member and to be judged by her daughter) to articles on sleep and weekend plans on Fridays.

We are lucky that most of our staff are digital natives, and Rethink Ireland did not own a desktop computer when this all started, so agile working was relatively easy for us. But I miss the chats and brainstorms.

Voltedge: What does the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ mean to you?

Deirdre: COVID19 has reminded us of the power of neighbourhood and community. My neighbours are closer than we have ever been.

All we need to do now is to channel that social capital as we emerge from this pandemic into ensuring we build a just transition from it – closing the inequality gaps that have been widened by COVID19 – and ensuring that we prepare for the climate challenge as we do so.

I believe we can do that, because we have all been forced to stop and think, reflect on what really matters to us as a family, a community and a country.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Deirdre: “Well behaved women seldom make history” – attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt – no explanation necessary.

Inspiration from Geraldine Magnier, Director of Idiro Analytics, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Geraldine Magnier, Director of Idiro Analytics to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

Founded in 2003, Idiro Analytics is a leading international data analytics consultancy. Headquartered in Dublin and 100% Irish owned, Idiro’s highly experienced data scientists and analysts help organisations to unlock value from their customer data using advanced analytics and AI. Idiro drives value for its clients by significantly improving commercial and operational KPIs relevant to them. Idiro has delivered solutions in over 30 countries to customers spanning telecoms, banking, utilities, education and government.

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

 Geraldine: For the last 6 years, I have been in my current role as Director of Idiro Analytics, this position encompasses largely the strategic direction of the company, be it new markets, sectors while also cultivating and curating the organisation’s culture. My remit also includes ensuring good corporate governance, directing and overseeing strategic outcomes. Finally, within Idiro, I play a major role in business development by formulating relationships externally, be it through liaising with our board of non-executive directors or prospect clients. Also, as co-owner I spend a significant proportion of my time networking and creating brand awareness through various initiatives. I truly love my role and get a huge amount of energy from it. Everyday feels different but always with a sense of progression and learning.

Then, outside of Idiro, in voluntary capacities, I hold roles in various organisations. This includes being an elected member on the national council of the Small Firms Association (SFA) of Ibec. Here the mammoth collaborative work done by council members to evolve a more level playing pitch for indigenous SMEs is a passion. Much of this work is evidenced when budget submissions penetrate government walls and eventually get passed. Working on the SFA national council is a true privilege as the sum of private SMEs in Ireland is 98%, many of whom are under severe pressure due to the pandemic but without them the back bone of Ireland would be hugely compromised given that such companies bring enterprise and employment to more rural parts where often other employment prospects may not be so rich… Although I live and work in Dublin, I grew up in a beautiful small town called Carrick-on-suir, so my work on the SFA council is centred by my connection and heart space for my native town and therefore an empathy for other towns and villages nationwide and not just Dublin centric.

This year I was elected to the policy council of the Dublin Chamber, a business to business networking and lobbying organisation, representing businesses from all sectors in Dublin and the greater Dublin area. Dublin is my adopted home for over 20 years now and I have seen the changes on the ground from a resident and business city centre located perspective; some good, some not so good. I most definitely want Dublin to reach its potential as a powerhouse capital but also as a living city. The work of the Dublin Chamber marvels this promise and aspiration with various campaigns such as the ‘New 15-minute City Planning Vision’ for Dublin and with sustainability at the core of each endeavour.

Then in alignment with my own sector, I have the privilege of being on the Board of Technology Ireland (Ibec). Where constant vigilance is kept on vital topics such cyber safety and ethics in AI etc. that affects all our lives and not just those associated with the technology sector.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Geraldine:  I am absolutely intrigued by people, the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of people captures me, no matter who they are… everyone is exceptionally interesting once you delve in with authentic curiosity. There is always something to learn and at the very least a fluid characterful conversation ensues. I draw my inspiration from people’s life stories, their perspectives, values and learnings. People generally and specifically hold the keys to life and hearty conversations guarantee a copy of such a ‘key to life’. But also the value of stepping into someone else’s shoes to see through their life experience prism. So, my podcast ‘Where the needle lands’ helps to feed that need of mine, especially in these more limited interactive days.

Then when I need to withdraw and spend time by myself to draw on inner inspiration… I lean more towards my creative side and that can take many forms, be it with art and craft, writing, meditative walks to being in the moment with jigsaw making with my two young kids. I shyly add that, for instance, I am a hobbyist milliner! I love hats… wearing or making.

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

Geraldine: I come from a multigenerational lineage of business owners and entrepreneurs, so I have never been short of role models and some great ones such as my Grandmother and Mother, both very learned and successful businesswomen. However, I realised later in life that I was short on mentors and consciously sought out specific mentors in my late 30s and early 40s. So, while it may seem obvious to people to have a mentor, I was late to this realization. I had been too busy ‘doing’ rather than apportioning more time and value to ‘being’.

My baby rearing years slowed me down for a while, and gifted me the realisation that I could grow enormously from the  value of honest mentors… so I sought out many and from each, their respective strong traits started to give muscle to my weaknesses. I still have many mentors, and the older I get, I give myself more permission to be open about when I am unsure and ask straight out to my peers for their guidance.

Generally, I ask for help more. An unintended benefit from this mentor-mentee relationships has shown me, how taking help builds up trust with each person you are openly vulnerable with, it then means that you have a force behind you and a common understanding and without judgement, you can be each other’s touchstone in the world of business or more.

Voltedge: What is the best piece of advice you received since Covid-19 hit the world?

Geraldine: As a technology company, the mindset often defaults to constantly trying for big bang innovation and while this is great for the creative muscle, it can be a tall order on a company’s resources of time and capital and an ever ending demand to be the best at the bleeding edge all the time. Idiro has been no stranger to pioneering, while this can be wonderful, but on balance, there can be a pain to being a pioneer or put another way ‘early bird gets the worm but second mouse gets the cheese’.

The best piece of advice I received since Covid, was the reminder that, one does not have to be outright innovative, that we can go the extra mile based on what has already been developed. The example given was the success of Zoom, and how they overtook the work of Skype who were the actual innovators of remote conferencing platforms. But Zoom went the final 10%. The takeaway message is that the final 10% can bring success. So not just specific to technology companies, all companies in all sectors can scan the market you are already in and see what the remaining consumer problem is in terms of what is on offer out there? What are the flaws and then can some of those be solved by a last 10% adjustment? Go the extra mile.

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered during the pandemic?

Geraldine: Prior to the pandemic, I had this notion that having children was one thing but evidence in the environment of them in any form would threaten my professional status or profile. Lockdown showed us all that people still can and want to work and be their best albeit that a child may make an audible or visual cameo role during a zoom call for business. While admittedly it can be somewhat interruptive, it is life and children are part of life.

To this end, the contrast prior to the lockdown, I put myself under pressure to present an exterior of not being ‘stretched’ due to having kids and chasing that elusive work life balance. Whereas in reality, I had major last-minute challenges around childminding and handovers that often put my heart crossways, particularly if they were unwell but I had to attend a meeting. Sometimes, my toddler just needed me to hold his hand while feeling under the weather. So, a major discovery during the pandemic was, (I say this in a tongue and cheek way) the pandemic has shown that loads of people have kids, more evidently!

But more importantly, the lockdown has shown how much parents of young children were juggling and smiling through all the craziness. But particularly as a woman, there can be an assumption that if you have young kids that your professional work quality and delivery may be compromised by being a mother and a professional. This is an additional stress we don’t need any longer, as the pandemic has set us free of the illusion or not, of having to ward off any incorrect perception. The pandemic has allowed dogs to bark, office homes to showcase their less than orderly bookshelves, less than groomed and less ironing from the waist down, all to be a new acceptable norm! So, isn’t it great, by being in this together, we are facing more truths and therefore more freedoms?

Since March, I have seen the value of intentional connection because remote bridging to people automatically causes more discerning decisions about with whom we choose to connect and converse. With social distancing both physically and virtually, I believe we are deepening our relationships rather than broadening them. So now I am more careful where I extend and apply my resources of energy and time because I have to be. Whereas I believe in the past I was less judicial about my resources and boundaries regarding tasks that I would take on. Now I am more mindful of my limitations and rather than be challenged by that, I acknowledge that and accept it more.

The next time someone says, let’s have a quick drink in the pub, I will go! I certainly will never take that opportunity for granted again. The banter and craic that only happens in a pub situation will never be underestimated again. We can go to dinner with friends and enjoy full on catch ups, but there should also be a space made for frivolous ‘bant’ and rant talk about nothing… just for the laugh and the exchange of energies that only happens effortlessly in a pub situation. The public sitting room of our cities, towns and villages keeps a certain and unassuming fabric of life going through the tapestry of personalities under one roof. But more vital to their soft-side offering, these public houses showed in lockdown times that they were conspicuous in their absence as the passive vigilance that they bring to our streets, that a little more edgier in the absence of pubs than in the past when they left a light on for civility.

Voltedge: In light of so much remote working and social distancing, what practices or approach have you taken to try to communicate and collaborate effectively during this time and to support employees?

Geraldine: In Idiro we immediately sought and followed the guidance of expert organisations such as Voltedge as their ‘Employer’s Guide’ is rich in practical advice and contingency plans. As business owners have become even busier in these pandemic times, being able to have an outside team at your disposal for bespoke challenges and immediate access has been tantamount to dwarfing our employee concerns. But also, it’s the first time that the employers guide was a radical ‘living document’ of additional pressures, so we were able to fully place our trust in Voltedge to keep abreast of the moving compliance goal posts. Their walk beside us in these C-19 times, has been crucial to our business survival as it allowed us to keep a clear thinking space to pivot and adjust our business model and delivery under the demands of the current crisis.

Each employee was also asked about their particular circumstance and resulting needs. We never took a one size fits all approach. So, we have been active in adjusting to some employee requests to respond adequately for their particular wellbeing and collegiality needs. Management also routinely does one to one check ins on how staff are doing, not necessarily around solid work items but more on how the person is feeling or coping during this Covid-19 time and placing emphasis on empathy to their particular experience of the C-19 environment. As a company, we are mindful that we are all experiencing this crisis differently, for example, parents are often so busy with their children that they are not so aware of or feeling lonely. While others are caught up with the heavy emotions of fear for older parents that they may not be able to visit etc. or they simply live alone and feel that aloneness.

 Voltedge: What does the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ mean to you?

Geraldine: United we stand, divided we fall. There are many ways to interpret the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ but its essence for me is essentially, that it is the antithesis of a social theory favouring individualism over the collective. Typically, Western society has favoured freedom to act as the individual over the collective for decades and the results have been less than palatable in so many facets. In societies where they look outward or from a collective point of view, they are often less ageist and more inclusive. By weighting individualism over ‘togetherness’ may suggest that we work from a mentality of scarcity.

Together means to share, care and know that abundance exists and there’s plenty for everyone. Stronger together means, the distribution bottlenecks can be diminished, and more fluid deployment of all resources ensues. Together we can’t be beaten or beaten down as we are minding one another. In the workplace, over the last decade or so, the importance of team versus ‘I’ has ignited and the realisation that you could have a wonderful person in a boss but they too are only one part of a really diverse and interesting team and can be more powerful if ‘togetherness’ is celebrated and cultivates as a mentality. It is a myth to think that we never achieve anything great by ourselves, we are interconnected and therefore interdependent. By the same token, it is reassuring that the same is true in bad times, that we are never truly alone either, even if at the time we believe we are alone, we are not.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Geraldine: “….way leads onto way…” by Robert Frost from his poem ‘The Road Less Travelled’. The reason why I love this quote is because it gives quality to all of our endeavours, the failed ones as well as the successful ones. So even if something does not turn out the way you expected or desired, well the mere fact that you turned up to a situation, means you have broadened your net to learn, see, hear an item of information or meet someone randomly, that will act as a link to your next or another step. Just showing up means a ‘way’ leads onto a ‘way’ which is always fruitful, maybe not today but someday when you least expect, and this starts joining up the dots in life. So “way leads onto way”, means no effort is in vain or futile. But not doing something or trying a ‘way’ is paralysis by one’s own making.

Inspiration from Dee Kehoe, CPD Director with Engineers Ireland, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Dee Kehoe, CPD Director with Engineers Ireland to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

Engineers Ireland is the membership and professional development body of the engineering community.   Its 25,000 members make up a community of creative professionals delivering solutions for society.

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

 Dee: I am CPD Director with Engineers Ireland and I also have responsibility for the STEPS programme, which is a non-profit outreach scheme that promotes interest and awareness in engineering as a future career to school students through a portfolio of projects.  I have been in this role since 2015 and have been with Engineers Ireland since 2010.  

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from? 

Dee:  Primarily from nature, other people and reading.  I like listening to TED talks, podcasts and watching arts programmes.  I love fiction and have been in the same book club for over 25 years.  Children continually inspire me with their openness to new ideas and fearlessness.

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

Dee: I have been fortunate in having worked for really great people in my career to date and have learned much from all of them.  Mary McAleese is a role model for me.  She was an excellent President of Ireland and I particularly admire how vocal and frank she is on significant issues that are important to her and society.  She is so empathetic and, in my view, has consistently exhibited all of the best qualities of a great leader.  I am looking forward to reading her memoir.

Voltedge: What is the best piece of advice you received since Covid-19 hit the world? 

Dee: Take it one day at a time.  Covid-19 has thrown us all into a major sociological experiment of how to live mindfully.  I have got much better at not worrying about relatively minor issues and challenges and making the most of the day that is in it.  I hope I can maintain this mindset post Covid!

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered during the pandemic? 

Dee: The lockdown meant spending a lot more time with my family which I loved.  My children may have a different view! I have also developed a much bigger interest in the garden and plants and flowers and while I have gone to yoga classes once a week since my twenties, moving to online classes has enabled me to practice it much more regularly which has been great for both my body and head.

Voltedge: In light of so much remote working and social distancing, what practices or approach have you taken to try to communicate and collaborate effectively during this time and to support employees? 

Dee: As a team we have continued with our usual comms channels in the remote environment –e.g. weekly team meetings, regular all staff meetings and 1:1s. I also call my colleagues to check in with them and I think this is really important as remote working can be isolating.  SMT also initiated some cross-team projects at the early stage of remote working which helped with inter-team collaboration and a sense of shared purpose.

 Voltedge: What does the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ mean to you? 

Dee: Team spirit.  We are social animals and Covid might challenge us in this regard at present, but it cannot change that fact.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Dee: Jim Rohn, the late American entrepreneur, is quoted as saying ‘Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment’.  I like it because he places the emphasis on the process or journey rather than just the desired outcome.  CPD is a journey and it keeps life interesting and purposeful.  We need to stay curious, connected and engaged if we want to be productive and purposeful.  It saddens me when I hear someone complain that ‘they have to’ undertake CPD for their job or professional body.  With a growth mindset, CPD is considered the fuel to adapt and grow so who wouldn’t want that!

Inspiration from Sinead Glennon, CFO at RiskSystem, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Sinead Glennon, CFO at RiskSystem to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

RiskSystem is a specialist provider of risk management and regulatory reporting services to the global funds industry via a proprietary cloud based platform. The core competency of the firm is producing in a timely fashion valuable risk information necessary for investment funds to comply with their regulatory obligations. Since their founding in 2013 they have been providing solutions for AIFMs, AIFs, UCITS as well as regulatory reporting such as Annex IV, Form PF, CPO-PQR, PRIIPs and Open Protocol reporting. Providing a dashboard view across multiple funds and asset classes ensures those charged with managerial supervision or governance have vital data at their fingertips such that remedial action can be taken if required. Their clients range from small self-managed investment companies to large tier one global asset managers such as Credit Suisse Asset Management. RiskSystem currently have over 200 funds on their platform with assets monitored in the region of €36 billion.

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

 Sinead: My role is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in a company called RiskSystem. I joined the company in June 2019 after returning from Australia.

 RiskSystem is a specialist provider of risk management and regulatory reporting services to the global funds industry via a proprietary cloud-based platform. The core competency of the firm is producing in a timely fashion valuable risk information necessary for investment funds to comply with their regulatory obligations. Since our founding in 2013 we have been providing solutions for AIFMs, AIFs, UCITS as well as regulatory reporting such as Annex IV, Form PF, CPO-PQR, PRIIPs and Open Protocol reporting. Providing a dashboard view across multiple funds and asset classes ensures those charged with managerial supervision or governance have vital data at their fingertips such that remedial action can be taken if required. Our clients range from small self-managed investment companies to large tier one global asset managers such as Credit Suisse Asset Management. We currently have over 200 funds on our platform with assets monitored in the region of €36 billion.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Sinead: From other people. I have a great network of people in my life both personally and professionally and I place a huge amount of value on that. I am a sociable person and I get a great energy and strength from the people in my life. Life is full of challenges and people will continuously surprise you with what they have managed to overcome in their lives.

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

 Sinead: I have been fortunate to have had more than one person look out for me throughout the earlier stages of my career. Before I moved to Australia, I worked in a company for 10 years and I had a great boss during that time. He was a very different personality and skillset to me and although my role was an accountant for his department, he challenged me to approach my job from a wider business partner perspective rather than just strictly accounting. It was the origins of my move towards strategic finance, CFO and directorship roles.

Another person that comes to mind is a senior female manager in the same company who put me forward for a role shortly after I returned from maternity leave. There were two roles available at two different levels. At that time, my self-confidence was low as I was adjusting to returning to work and I completed an application for the more junior role and brought it to her for approval. She refused to approve it as she felt I was underselling myself and insisted that I apply for the more senior role. It was a pivotal moment for me in my career. It gave me such a confidence boost at a time when I needed it most and it led me to pursuing similar roles at this level and higher when I moved to Australia.

The best thing about these two people is that they have no idea of the impact they had on me personally or on my career. They were not actively trying to be a mentor. I will always be grateful to them and they influenced me in a way that I will always try to support or encourage others if I can.

Voltedge: What is the best piece of advice you received since Covid-19 hit the world?

 Sinead: Don’t procrastinate! If you get the opportunity to do something, then do it. We are all guilty of putting things on the long finger or saying “I must look into doing that” but I think 2020 has shown us how life can get in the way of best made plans!

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered during the pandemic?

 Sinead: I appreciate the value of being able to say that I am content in my life. I realise how fortunate I am to be able to say this at the moment, especially after a couple of particularly challenging years for me, family-wise.

The past year has made me realise the things I took for granted eg travel, socialising, gym, events etc. I feel a lot more grateful for these things now than I ever did before.

Months of isolation and restrictions have encouraged me to try new hobbies and activities and push myself outside my comfort zone. On one hand, jigsaws and crosswords and on the on her hand, headstands and the flying trapeze. So, quite a variety really!

Voltedge: In light of so much remote working and social distancing, what practices or approach have you taken to try to communicate and collaborate effectively during this time and to support employees?

 Sinead: The reduction of social interaction among staff has been challenging for everyone. We have implemented a phased return to the office which has helped staff immensely. In general, we are communicating a lot through virtual means and trying to keep some of the office banter going in that way!

 Voltedge: What does the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ mean to you?

 Sinead: The key to surviving any challenge is the network of people around you. We are all individually stronger when we work together towards a shared purpose or a shared goal. At the earlier stages of my career, women were always pitched against each other and a competitive environment existed.  This is changing and women are supporting each other more now. There is recognition that we are not all striving for the same goals and success looks different for everyone. Combining different skillsets improves us all individually and gives us an opportunity to learn from other people’s skills and knowledge. We don’t have to be in competition with each other in order for us all to succeed at our goals.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Sinead: My former boss used to say “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions”. It changed my mindset on how I approach a lot of things both workwise and in my personal life. I found it shifted my focus from only seeing the negative aspects, to approaching it in a way of how I intend to get past it, or resolve it. It is not about assuming I will be able to fix something, but it is more about the mindset it has created for me. If you approach something with a negative mindset, you are more likely to find only negatives. So, on the flip side of that, you are at least making your best attempt to resolve or improve the situation.

Inspiration from Larissa Feeney, CEO at Accountantonline to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Larissa Feeney, CEO at Accountantonline to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

Accountant Online is an online financial technology company based in Ireland. They are a team of accounting and company secretarial professionals, using cloud technology to help their clients access their professional services simply, easily and securely.

 

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

 Larissa: I am CEO of Accountant Online – I am the owner and founder and I set up this business in 2015. It is now the most popular accounting website in Ireland and has over 28,000 visits a month.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from? 

Larissa: I draw inspiration from other entrepreneurs and business owners, large and small, across Ireland and internationally. Most of our clients are small business owners and I love hearing their stories of why they set up and to watch them grow and progress. I admire and follow leaders such as Ariana Huffington who is making such a positive impact with her Thrive initiative because she is promoting a balanced, holistic approach to success in the workplace. I have also been very inspired by the ‘Inspirefest’ events put on by Anne O’Dea in recent years and I look forward to attending her ‘Future Human’ event at the end of October.

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

Larissa: I have enjoyed being part of networks and programmes such as ACORNS and I benefited enormously from my experience with programmes such as ‘Going For Growth’ and support from Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland. It helped me build a network and be exposed to a greater level of ambition and expertise than was available to me previously.

Voltedge: What is the best piece of advice you received since Covid-19 hit the world? 

Larissa: To set short term goals month to month and adapt as we go. The future became very uncertain in March 2020. We needed to make some changes, but we needed to be flexible enough to row back on decisions if required, so we do review and revise our plans regularly.

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered during the pandemic?

Larissa: I am certainly seeing more of my family, which is positive. I also had to take a more formal decisive approach to getting fresh air and to be in nature more. I’m lucky to live in the countryside in Donegal and my step activity has massively increased since we introduced ‘walk and talk’ virtual meetings.

Voltedge: In light of so much remote working and social distancing, what practices or approach have you taken to try to communicate and collaborate effectively during this time and to support employees? 

Larissa: Although we have offices in Letterkenny and Dublin, most of our staff actually already worked remotely prior to the pandemic, so working effectively together as a remote team was a challenge that we have always had to overcome. All the teams have regular meetings, and we encourage video screens to be on. In the good weather we held ‘walk and talk’ meetings to add some creative time. We did some quizzes in the early days of lockdown, but I don’t think they are sustainable as a social activity and are not suited to everyone. Lately we invited Voltedge to present some webinars which allowed staff to consider additional initiatives such as buddy systems and sharing photos of view of their walks. 

Voltedge: What does the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ mean to you?

Larissa: It reminds me of the many female support initiatives and cultural expressions that are [unfortunately, still] necessary, such as ‘we can’t be what we can’t see’. Visibility of females in leadership positions across all disciplines is really important and will only happen by both genders making decisions to correct the clear imbalance across our society. I have 3 young boys, so I’d like to see them grow up in a world which has a more equal representation. I notice the tennis player Andy Murray is a great supporter of equality in sport – I think he has been brought up to challenge the clear imbalance there and his voice is powerful in addressing change in tennis, as an example.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Larissa: As a busy working mum, the quote that resonates with me the most is ‘When a ball has to drop, make sure it’s the right one’. We all have very busy lives, it is not possible to have it all, all the time. Prioritizing time is important and identifying what is important on any given day helps me ensure that I keep the right balls in the air!

Inspiration from Tracey Donnery, Executive Director at Skillnet Ireland, to celebrate National Women’s Enterprise Day 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

When we support each other, we’re Stronger Together. We asked Tracey Donnery, Executive Director at Skillnet Ireland to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received since Covid-19 hit the world, and what does the slogan “Stronger Together” means to her.

Skillnet Ireland is a business support agency of the Government of Ireland. Their mandate is to advance the competitiveness, productivity and innovation of Irish businesses through enterprise-led workforce development. Skillnet Ireland currently support over 18,000 businesses nationwide and provide a wide range of valuable learning experiences to over 70,000 trainees. Their mission is to facilitate increased participation in enterprise training and workforce learning in Ireland.

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

 Tracey: Executive Director of Policy & Communications since 2016 and I have been with Skillnet Ireland since 2006.

 Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

 Tracey:  I draw inspiration from people and nature.

At Skillnet Ireland, we focus on people and our success is dependent on the collective energy, foresight and commitment of everyone involved. I am so often inspired by the passion of others truly focussed on making a difference and innovating. With such a wide group you can’t but be inspired to see that everyone with drive can embrace new business challenges in so many exciting ways.

I love to see how expansive and complex nature can be yet also so peaceful and simple. More and more I am drawn to getting out, in as much as we can, to observe how beautiful the flowers and foliage can be in brightening our lives and smiling back at us.

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

 Tracey: I have been very lucky with both male and female roles models and mentors during my career. One role model that stands out is my good friend Attracta O’Regan, Head of Law Society Professional Training and Rule of Law Advisor for the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe.  Attracta exhibits a determination to innovate and push the boundaries both in her career and life. Always a true professional, but also a great character, Attracta is an achiever and an excellent mentor and role model to many. I really appreciate our friendship and her many words of wisdom.

When I was cycling today, I was thinking who to choose as a role model and I also thought of Paul Reid, current Head of the HSE, for his leadership ability. Paul was one of my role models many years ago in eircom. He could mobilise huge teams with a clear vision and engage with employees at all levels. He is a great role model to so many young people, who can see that success is possible with hard work, focus, lifelong learning, and staying true to yourself.

For women I think it is so important to have a mix of male and female role models and mentors. Great value can be gained from both, bringing such different insights, helping us understand ourselves and each other in so many new ways.

Voltedge: What is the best piece of advice you received since Covid-19 hit the world?

 Tracey: The best piece of advice is that “we are all different and respond differently to things”. This has been important in terms of having patience and recognising that so much abrupt change can be difficult. I got this advice from someone after we lost my Dad during Covid, someone reminding me to be kind and patient both with myself and others. It has been of value in many ways as the pandemic has gone on.

Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered during the pandemic?

 Tracey: I have found peace and gratitude during the pandemic. I know that I am lucky and that although this is hard on us all at times, we still have so much to be thankful for. The quiet walks have been very beautiful with less traffic or busyness.

Really enjoying food has been great. Meals at home have become more of an occasion and so enjoyable. Whether it’s trying new things or tasting things more, I don’t know but even our picnics haven been great during the lockdown when you couldn’t rely on a café etc. Simple but fun.

Really treasuring real-life and virtual smiles. It is so great to see faces and smiles and see others you know or not smiling and enjoying life. Our Irish humour has been fantastic throughout.

Voltedge: In light of so much remote working and social distancing, what practices or approach have you taken to try to communicate and collaborate effectively during this time and to support employees?

 Tracey: At Skillnet Ireland we have taken concrete steps to communicate and collaborate effectively with our employees and our wider Skillnet Network community. Together, through regular communication and engagement, we have worked closely to rapidly design new initiatives to support businesses and the workforce through our Networks and new MentorsWork, Rebound, Clear Customs and Skills Connect programmes. Developing these together has brought a great energy to our collaborations.

We also introduced a programme of measures and learning events to support all employees during the pandemic, with our full team participating together.  We have had some very creative approaches designed by our teams to communicate, support each other, and build our resilience. One practice I loved was our daily ‘thought of the day’ from a different employee each day during the lockdown. Each person would share their thought of the day, and this brought a fascinating array of creativity and joy, as the team shared poetry, philosophy, music, comedy, and family stories to brighten up our days.

 Voltedge: What does the slogan ‘Stronger Together’ mean to you?

 Tracey: This year stronger together takes on a very special meaning. Even without seeing others we can feel close to all our families, friends, colleagues, neighbours and strangers knowing we are all in this together and all wish the very best for everyone around the world to get through Covid-19.

Stronger together also means the solidarity and support of women and men to work together to champion and facilitate women’s capacity to achieve success within their careers, their own businesses and in their wider lives. Providing support to women to thrive in all areas is so important given the extra burdens women often face as carers and homemakers.

Stronger together also means standing together to champion our womanhood and being proud of how wonderful being a woman is – and having fun while doing it!

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Tracey: One quote I like is “Change is the only constant in life” from Heraclitus. We are always in a state of flux making the present moment so precious to truly observe and enjoy.

IMCA Webinar Chaired by Fredericka Sheppard

Monday, September 7th, 2020

 

The IMCA is the national and internationally recognised professional institute for management consultants and business advisers in Ireland.

As they old saying goes “Ships are safe in port but that’s not what they were built for..” and equally as a profession IMCA recognise as management consultants the vital importance of being able to reengage with clients and look to meeting new prospects in a post lockdown environment.

The expert panel will be chaired by Voltedge Co-Managing Director Fredericka Sheppard and she will be chatting to Ian Hannon and Garrett Harte as they share their respective insights into the most effective approaches to reengaging with the market in a safe and compelling manner.

This will be a sell out event so ensure to book early to avoid disappointment. 

Click here to register.

Important Update for Company Directors and Owners

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Proprietary directors are eligible to access the EWSS, which came into effect on the 1st September if they meet the following criteria:

  • the employer meets the eligibility criteria for the EWSS,
  • the proprietary director is on the payroll of the eligible employer, and
  • the proprietary director has been paid wages which were reported to Revenue on the payroll of the eligible employer at any stage between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.

Full details and guidance are available here.

Important – Parental Leave Update

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

To ensure you are kept up to date with the latest Government legislation Voltedge is advising you of the following update to Parental Leave.

Parental leave will increase from 22 to 26 weeks effective from the 1st September 2020 per child up to the age of 12.  If a parent has already taken some or all of their previous entitlement they can still take the additional parental leave if the child is still eligible.

This is a good opportunity to review your current handbook and policies to ensure they are fully compliant with all the latest legislation. Contact Voltedge for the most up to date information and advice. Email us at info@voltedge.ie or ring our office 01 525 2914.

Government Supports for SME’s

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Did you know your Local Enterprise Office (LEO) can provide access to various supports to help you develop, promote and grow your business?

  • Trading Online Voucher Scheme is designed to assist small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets.
  • Priming Grant is a business start-up grant, available to micro enterprises within the first 18 months of start-up.
  • Business Expansion grant is designed to assist the business in its growth phase after the initial 18 month start-up period
  • Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters (TAME) grant enables clients to explore and develop new market opportunities.
  • Feasibility Study Grants are designed to assist the promoter with researching market demand for a product or service and examining its sustainability.
  • Innovation Vouchers worth €5,000 are available to assist a company or companies to explore a business opportunity or problem with a registered know ledge provider.
  • COVID-19 Business Loans designed for impacted micro-enterprises they offer 6 months interest and repayment free terms.
  • LEO Mentor Programme provides free mentoring to clients to help identify solutions to vulnerable parts of their business
  • Training, workshops and networking events are now all delivered online and free of charge to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Find out more about all these resources at https://www.localenterprise.ie/

Watch On Demand Webinar ‘Transitioning Back to the Workplace’

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

This webinar provides expert guidance from Fredericka Sheppard and Joyce Rigby-Jones, joint Managing Directors of Voltedge, and Karen Hernandez from Enterprise Ireland, about the steps companies should implement to support the smooth transition of employees back into the workplace. You can also learn about the supports that are available from Enterprise Ireland.

Throughout the webinar the speakers discussed:

  • The role of the employer in ensuring the continued health, safety and wellbeing of employees.
  • Communicating & engaging with employees around their return to the workplace
  • Resource planning & restructuring of roles and responsibilities
  • Supports available from Enterprise Ireland.

You can watch the webinar replay, view the slides and the Return to Workplace guide here.

Transitioning Back to the Workplace Webinar

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

As the country progresses through a phased re-opening of the economy and society, the return of employees to the workplace has now become a priority for many companies. In a Covid-19 environment, thoughtful preparation and planning are essential to ensure a safe and successful return to work.

The webinar, hosted by Jonathan Healy will provide expert guidance from Fredericka Sheppard and Joyce Rigby Jones, Joint Managing Directors of Voltedge, about the steps companies should implement to support the smooth transition of employees back into the workplace.  You will also hear about the range of Enterprise Ireland supports to assist you navigate this process.

When?

Thursday 25th of June 10am – 11am

This webinar will discuss: 

  • The role of the employer in ensuring the continued health, safety and well-being of employees
  • Communicating and engaging with employees around their return to the workplace
  • Resource planning and restructuring of roles and responsibilities
  • Data privacy, security & GDPR.

Who should attend?
This webinar is open to Enterprise Ireland clients and other manufacturing and internationally traded services companies with 10 or more employees.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Podcast: Co-Managing Director Joyce Rigby-Jones chatting with Linda Ward

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

Voltedge Co-Managing Director Joyce Rigby-Jones is chatting with Linda Ward, MD at Retail Renewal about how retailers can support their employees and what you need to put in place before you can open the doors to your shop.

This podcast is all about helping retailers to come to terms with the new reality of trading during a pandemic. When can you reopen? What do you have to do before you reopen? What level of turnover can I expect? When will trading be back to pre-pandemic levels? How can I make my customers and staff feel safe?

Linda: So what are the most important steps that people need to take now in terms of retailers going back trying to re-open their stores and thinking about all the things that they have to do? In relation to the staff that they employ, what are the most important steps that they need to take in that area?

Joyce: The most important thing is to look at this as a major continuity plan and put in place a plan and appoint a contact. We are advising all our clients to appoint a Covid-19 Coordinator; that person will take on the role of making sure that the organisation is in tune with what’s happening or that they’re following all the government and HSE advice that’s coming down the line. So the Coordinator is really pushing out information to the employees, keeping them on track, being a point of contact if they have any concerns.

So if an employee is worried about something, they can go directly to this person. In a small retail environment, that’s probably going to be the owner, but in some organisations is going to be a senior person who will take on that role and very much drive it. The really important thing is to make sure that employees know what they’re doing in terms of Covid-19 and how to deal with that in the workplace, and this Coordinator will drive that behaviour and remind them constantly of what is important in terms of the social distancing, the hygiene aspects but also how to deal with each other and customers, as they start going back to work. 

Linda: So before they get to that point of going back to work, what are the three steps, what is the sort of preparation that an employer can do and what sorts of things do they need to be thinking about before they open the doors and before they bring the staff back in?

Joyce: The employer has a duty of care to provide a safe workplace for their employees so it’s vital that they think about this. They should do a risk analysis, they will be putting in all the physical issues and actions that you’ve been going through with them in terms of shields of prospects but really they need to look at the risk analysis if one employee has backup support, have they kept maybe a couple of employees separate so that they are doing either shifts or having people coming in at different times so they’re not in contact with each other, and may want to look at checking their employees’ personal details – do they have their emergency contact person, have they got their correct addresses and phone numbers etc. and also they need to be looking at whether their employees have any issues with regard to coming back to work, perhaps they have an underlying illness themselves or maybe they’re living with someone they have concerns about.

The employer needs to be empathetic about this and actually understand personal situations, so we really need to be very close to employees and understand what’s going on in their personal lives. They may be delighted to come back to work or they may be quite scared so the owner/manager and the Covid-19 Coordinator, whether they’re the same person or not, they really need to be talking to them one-to-one and finding out how they’re going to come back. We have a pre-return to work questionnaire which is a questionnaire just checking if the employees are ready to come back and that they haven’t got any reason not to come back, and that is always important to check out as well. 

Linda: So that is like a questionnaire you’d give out to your employees before they come back to make sure that they’re ready and happy to come back and not suffering from any symptoms presumably? 

Joyce: Exactly. They’re confirming that to you and obviously, on an ongoing basis, you’re going to be checking this with employees but it means when they come back, you know that there is no issues and you are not going to worry about them coming back. 

Linda: And what about any sort of induction training that you need to give staff or anybody that is coming back to work in your organisation?

Joyce: It’s very important that you have a plan of action to ensure that you’re giving them all the information they need in terms of the protocol of return to work which the HSE and the gov.ie have given. The NSAI also have a very detailed document which goes through this but basically, what we’re trying to do, is reinforce the safe hygiene elements of returning to work but also talking to the employee about whether they need to bring in their own lunches, whether they need to look at how they’re going to get to work because potentially they shouldn’t be using public transport and also things like how do they deal with a customer if they’re in a retail environment, perhaps if they come up too close to them, how do they actually react, what do they do about this; so it’s a practical view as well of the issues that will arise in the workplace when that employee starts back again.

Linda: It sounds like communication is going to be really really important.

Joyce: Communication is key and I think that every owner or manager should be putting a Covid-19 communication discussion on the agenda every single day, so reminding employees what they need to be doing in terms of their own hygiene and also reminding them about what they need to do if customers come in, to say what they need to say to them and also talk to them about any risks or concerns they have, so it’s really a daily issue. Owners shouldn’t assume that employees know this and understand everything; they should assume that they need to be talking to them every single day until they’re absolutely confident that this is just a natural part of our normal working life again.

And I think the other issue is just being careful about how they’re looking at other things like holidays, and this has been a big issue for many employers – what do we do about holidays? We can’t go away, we can’t go to Spain or anywhere else so all the employees who had planned their summer holidays are going to say – well I don’t want to take them because I don’t have anywhere to go. Employers need to have a plan in place that addresses this, so they need to look at potentially asking employees to maybe take a couple of days a month away and also planning for at least a five day break from work in the next few months because we all need a break away even if we are going to be sitting at home, we need that break from work. So planning holidays, looking at the number of holidays that all the employees have, do an assessment, look at what you need to do about this and then start talking to the individuals and tell them that you may not be able to carry holidays to any great extent in 2021, so they need to be aware about this.

Linda: I think that’s true. I think the last weeks have been quite intense in many ways and, just talking personally, I had planned to go away for two weeks at Easter time to see my family and I couldn’t go because I couldn’t travel so I worked through those two weeks but I really miss the break and I really feel now that I haven’t had a break since last September really. I am going to take a break in ten days time and I am going to spend it sitting in the garden reading a book but at least it will be a break from the day-to-day routine and it will be a different way of being in the same place I suppose. I think it’s quite important that people actually do take that time just to be, because it has been a really stressful time for an awful lot of people and a very worrying time; living with uncertainty is not easy. 

Joyce: I totally agree with you, and even though we sort of think – well, if I take a day off, I might just gonna sit at home – well, maybe that’s what you need to do, maybe you just need to relax and do something different; we’ll have some of the shops open again shortly and we need to really be supporting our local retailers as well so maybe we go out and go to the garden centre and do something like that. It is something an employer needs to plan and they need to be talking to the individuals about this.

The other issue that Voltedge was looking at, when we were looking at the whole Covid-19 issue was the Covid-19 Curve and this is a curve that was originally devised for people going through a bereavement or a major grief and it was developed by a lady called Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969 and it shows the way we go through different phases when we’re going through a major crisis which we’re going through now, and we start off at the shock phase, which I think we all did way back in February when we heard that this virus was coming, and then we move into some sort of denial and we think it’s not really going to affect me, and then we realise that it is affecting all of us hugely, and then we end up moving into the frustration part of the curve, we maybe have never worked at home before, or maybe we’ve been laid off and we have to sit at home, we’re very worried and really concerned about what’s going to happen to our jobs. Often some people will go deep into a depressive time and feel very low, we’re missing our friends and family, we can’t see our close family and that’s been extremely difficult for employees, so again, employers need to be thinking about this.

We’ve all been through a lot of stress, we all need support, this isn’t a time for being difficult, we all have to help each other. When we’re coming out of the curve though, we’re moving into experimenting and thinking of innovative ways of how we’re going to live and deal with this uncertain world, and we’re seeing wonderful ideas coming through in the retail and other sectors where people are thinking of ways to make sure we can move forward and get used to a different reality. And we will get there, we will eventually get to a stage where this is the new normal and we will be used to it, but it’s interesting, some people will fall backwards, down the curve again, they’ll have a bad day and they’ll feel very low, and it’s up to us to understand that and bring them back up and help them move along the curve.

Linda: I can identify with that. I identify my feelings along that curve too. Just to get back to another practical thing of what retailers need to think about, what should they do if somebody comes in the shop one day and they say ‘I think I might have some symptoms, they might be Covid-19 symptoms but I’m not sure’ – what should the retailer do in that situation? 

Joyce: I think the immediate thing is to refer them to the guidelines in the HSE and they should immediately self-isolate if they think there are genuine risks of a Covid virus case. The employer should be saying to that individual ‘you need to go home, self-isolate, call your GP immediately and talk to them about what happens next’.

Linda: It also really highlights the need for social distancing and all the hygiene measures that there are advised during various protocols and how important they are, and how, if you follow them, they actually do work. There’s still a chance that, even if you have the right protocols in place within your workplace, some of your employees could still be exposed to the virus somewhere else, but if everybody did their bit in trying to keep the protocols in place, then we’re going to minimise the spread of the virus. 

Joyce: Yes and we know that there are lots of businesses that have continued to run the essential businesses and they have managed to control this really well and there is no reason why even a small employer can’t ensure that their workplace is very safe. But it is a constant reminder, it’s constant communication, and if you have a case that arises, that maybe somebody has picked up the virus somewhere else, you’ll have a plan and a risk analysis done so that if Joyce or Linda are going out sick, you have replacements, you have a back-up plan, you’re ready to run with it, so it’s all about the planning, preparation and communication.

Linda: What I’ve been taking from our conversation is the fact that communication and empathy is really important to understand where your co-worker or employee is coming from and to really reflect back to what their concerns are and make sure you address them. Empathy is needed because everybody is in a different situation. Some people might have a difficult home life or they might have a vulnerable person at home, so as an employer, you need to be aware of that and to respect that in a way that possibly pre-Covid we may not have done in quite the same way. 

Joyce: You are quite right, pre-Covid we would have been saying there are GDPR issues, for example that we shouldn’t known a lot of information, we don’t need to know information about our employees, their home lives, but actually, with Covid-19 upon us, this is the time when employers need to have enough information to ensure that they can manage the employee, support that employee, and if it means knowing a bit more about their personal lives than before, that’s what they need to be doing.

So when employees will hopefully be very open and say ‘listen I had difficulty getting into work or I am worried about a vulnerable relative’, that needs to be talked through and it needs to be looked from a risk assessment, but most employees are looking so forward to getting back to work, that it’s something they’re really happy to do and we want to facilitate that, but we have to, as employers, ensure that we are providing a safe and healthy workplace for them to return to.

Linda: And also in terms of it’s going to be safe and healthy for the customers too, because otherwise the customers are not going to come in, if they don’t feel confident that the precautions are in place, then it’s going to be difficult to attract people to come into your store.

Joyce: I think we’re seeing that already. Some stores are really excellent in terms of the way they manage their customers coming in and out and others aren’t and I believe that those stores that are really thinking through this and have good planning in place, they are the ones that are going to benefit from sales because customers will come to them first. And I know myself, even going to different supermarkets, I would be very conscious of the ones that are good and really looking after my health and safety when I go in as opposed to the ones that maybe aren’t so good.

Linda: It’s sort of bringing the whole transnational nature of retail into a very human space.

Joyce: I think so, and it will make us very different in the way that we treat employees and customers and that’s actually not a bad thing, I think it’s really good that we are knowing that we need to be looking after each other more and be much more considerate and careful and that’s a really nice thing so there are good things that will come out of this crisis. 

Listen to the podcast episode here.

The COVID-19 Curve

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

How can employers work through the Covid-19 curve and support their employees through it?

The COVID-19 virus has created a huge crisis throughout the world, and all businesses are having to take radical decisions on a daily basis.  We are all in completely uncharted territory, and we and our employees may be struggling both professionally and personally to find our way in these challenging and changing times.

Working off the original Kubler-Ross curve that was utilised originally in the 1970s (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 1969) for people going through grief, we have taken the curve and looked at the reactions that we and our employees may be going through.

We have taken our version of the COVID-19 Curve and considered the following:

  • Today – where are you now on this curve? As an employer hopefully you can move through the curve reasonably quickly as you need to be coming up the end of the curve to support your employees – everyone will work through the curve at a different pace. Some need more time than others, but as employers, we need to be driving positive behaviour and supporting employees as they struggle in the frustration and depression stages.
  • Phases & stages – recognise that each phase and stage is different and will pass. What can you do to help yourself and others move through each phase? By understanding where you and your employees are on this curve, you can provide the particular support they need e.g. if you have an employee who is really struggling and is depressed or feeling very isolated, you need to support them more to move to the next stage. Do you need to give more information or emotional support or is guidance and direction more appropriate at this stage?
  • Acceptance – by accepting our situation and moving to a more positive place, we can rationalise how we are going to continue to work in a changed world – and also make sure that there are the supports in place for ourselves and our employees. The world of work will never be the same again, so it’s vital to accept this and understand the implications. Employers have a responsibility to continually communicate to all employees as more details become available.
  • Integration – this curve gives us an understanding of the natural highs and lows we will all go through over the next few weeks and perhaps months. It will help us to understand and accept your own and others’ behaviours and responses and can give you a real understanding of why some people behave and react in certain ways.

Employers, and their employees, can have bad days and revert back to depression/frustration – they then need to work through the curve again to hopefully move to acceptance and integration.

Employers can significantly help employees by driving strong messages giving employees clear direction and strategic detail so that employees can feel they are getting more control over their working lives. In a crisis that none of us have ever experienced, the key to moving forward is to feel – both personally and professionally – that we are gaining some control over our lives.

Voltedge would like to reassure you that we are fully operational and there are no disruptions to our services. We are following government guidelines and have facilities in place to host virtual meetings and webinars in place of face to face meetings. We understand that each situation is personal to your needs, and we can work with you to customise a plan that works best for your business right now. We are available between 7am and 11pm on info@voltedge.ie, 087 220 1673 or 01 5252914.

Alison McGinley, Managing Director of TaxAssist Accountants Ireland

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Alison McGinley, Managing Director of TaxAssist Accountants Ireland to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

 

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

Alison: I am the Managing Director of TaxAssist Accountants Ireland and I have been in the role for over 3 years having been with the organisation since it launched 10 years ago.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Alison: My role is to drive the business forward and position us for growth so I am always looking for new ideas; new technologies, new product lines, new marketing angles etc .

I find I get better inspiration when I am not caught up in the day to day in the office- so when working from home or traveling for example. I personally find researching different industries to my own useful and thought provoking. I also research what is going on my in own industry but in other countries.

I will also often get inspired by our network of franchisees both here and the UK telling me about client trends and things that are happening on the ground. So, I try to carve out time nearly every week to be out and about so I can to stay on top of that.

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

Alison: I was very lucky in my first role out of University at Google to be surrounded by a lot of very able, strong , female role models on the management team who were excellent role models. I absorbed a lot one of which was looking at how they advocated for themselves. Its something that holds a lot of people back but you do need to get comfortable with it. None of us wants to look boastful but seeing it done in a more graceful way was interesting to me at that early point in my career.

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

Alison: To say yes to good propositions/ ideas and figure out how you will achieve them afterwards!

I also really remember the penny dropping that perfection and the constant pursuit of expertise is not the way to develop your career. You need to let go and realise that your relationships with superiors, staff, clients are really what will propel everything forward so that area needs time.

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

Alison: For me it is people. Finding, motivating and keeping a strong team around you is so important.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Alison: ‘The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place’. – George Bernard Shaw

For me so much of our success or failure is about communication and building relationships with people.

Inspiration from Fidelma Whelan, Managing Director of MacLachlan & Donaldson

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Fidelma Whelan, Managing Director of MacLachlan & Donaldson to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Fidelma: My current role is as Managing Director of MacLachlan & Donaldson, an intellectual property law firm based in Dublin and Belfast. I have been in role for 6 months now, since September 2019.  From a background in management consultancy, finance and operations, I am finding opportunities to bring in my past experiences every day.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Fidelma: I look for inspiration in all directions, from the people I know, to the media I consume and the examples I see around me ever day.  Some inspiration is directly related to how people work, behave or achieve, while other inspiration is more academic and I spend time each week keeping up to date with the latest in the world business, management, leadership and IP.

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

Fidelma: I have had the good fortune to work with a number of outstanding individuals throughout my career in management consultancy and beyond. At each stage of my career, I worked with at least one person who I still consider a mentor.  It wouldn’t be possible to pick out just one as each person had their own impact across my varied career – from work role models who showed me what true leadership is, or demonstrated that a work-life balance is possible if you define what that means for you, or showed me what can be achieved through sheer energy, persistence and focus.

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

Fidelma: That I own my own career and that there are no “shoulds “ in career or life.  It has really driven me to find work that invigorates and challenges me as I have progressed through my life. I haven’t always been fully in control of how and when I moved jobs, due to family circumstances, but by taking ownership of my career and understanding that there is nothing I “should” do, only rather to do what works for me, my family and my life, I have taken my work in interesting and challenging directions.  Take the time to understand what you want from your work, believe in your ability to achieve it and then work to get it.

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

Fidelma: The increasing interconnectedness and mobility of the workforce presents both opportunities and a huge challenge for leaders as we seek to recruit and retain the best talent for our organisations.  As the world moves ever faster and expectations of what a workplace should provide change, we need to challenge ourselves to keep up and get the best from this trend.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Fidelma: “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can” – Nikos Kazantzakis   This quote defines so much about how I view success and growth in my life and in my workplaces. There has be an underlying belief in yourself and your actions before you can truly be successful. Your mindset is as important as your actions are, and there is a lot of scientific research to back this up now.

Dee Coakley, Co-Founder and CEO at Boundless

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Dee Coakley, Co-Founder and CEO at Boundless to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Dee: I am Co-Founder & CEO at Boundless. Boundless was founded in May 2019.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Dee: I’m a huge believer in network. I draw inspiration, energy – and, at times, solace – from conversations with other founders and amazing women who have paved the way for those of us who are earlier in our careers.

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

Dee: 10 years ago, as a Fledgling COO in London, I had the good fortune to get to know Divinia Knowles. At that time, Divinia was COO of Mind Candy, which was seeing rocket ship growth. Divinia still found time to organise monthly meetups for local COOs – conversations and connections that taught me so much. The COO Network that was once a casual group of 5 of us that used to meet for monthly beers is now a professional network of almost 400 COOs. And, last year, Divinia was one of the first investors in Boundless. She’s hugely supportive of everything we’re doing, and continue to be incredibly generous with advice and invaluable introductions.

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

Dee: Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. This is not new advice – we all hear this all the time – but it is great advice. I procrastinated for years over starting my own business. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. The things that seem the scariest reap the biggest rewards. This may sound like a cliché but, the more I test this, the more I find it to be true.

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

Dee: The world of work and how people effectively work together is changing. The millennial workforce have much higher expectations of the organisations that they work for, and their leaders, than previous generations. Successful leaders will be those who are focussed on a vision that’s making the world a better place, those who push for diversity on their teams and in their company’s thinking, and those that provide flexibility and inspiring working environments for their teams. Those who crack these things will flourish, but those who fail to get to grips with new ways of working will flounder.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Dee: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint Exupery. There’s a huge difference between ambition (wanting the upside of the destination) and drive (being prepared to do what it takes to get there). Considered planning gives teams the fuel they need to execute effectively. I’m a natural born planned and love nothing more than getting a great team together to hatch great plans!

Inspiration from Louise Harrison, Employment Lawyer and Partner in Flynn O’Driscoll 

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Louise Harrison, Employment Lawyer and Partner in Flynn O’Driscoll to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Louise: I am an employment lawyer and partner in Flynn O’Driscoll which is a corporate law firm focussed on Ireland’s SME, midmarket sector. I took up this role in October 2019 after 14 years with William Fry, where I trained as a solicitor and was ultimately appointed partner.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Louise: I am inspired by my four-year old daughter Edith, who is a blessing beyond my powers of description and brings boundless joy into every day!  I find inspiration in nature, particularly mountains and the sea, and I have always found music, books and film to be powerfully life-enhancing.

After a recent life-changing health challenge, I am currently feeling inspired by the beautiful Georgie Crawford who represents resilience and positivity and I am grateful for her raw honesty and her choice to use her platform to make what can be an extremely isolating experience better understood.

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

Louise: I have been lucky to have had excellent training and opportunities during my time in William Fry. Maura Roe mentored me generously for over 10 years and she stands out for her integrity and technical excellence.   I can thank Alicia Compton for teaching me the art of dispensing with unnecessary words when drafting advices!  Catherine O’Flynn would be a role model for any aspiring leader.  I felt inspired in particular by her poise, her lack of ego and by how readily and openly she gives (deflects!) credit to others for accomplishments.

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

Louise: I worked with the well-known media lawyer Michael Kealey many years ago, during my traineeship.   He told me how important it was to be seen to be decisive and not equivocate or unduly ‘hedge’ my bets when advising clients.   I still remember him warning me about how frustrating it feels, from a client’s perspective, to receive lengthy emails or letters saying ‘on the one hand (x) but on the other hand (y)’, where the author is apparently unwilling to recommend a course of action. This advice served me very well.   My approach to my practice has been to focus not as much on providing commentary on legal issues or concepts as on identifying a manageable solution along with a practical implementation plan. This approach conforms well with the commercial ethos in Flynn O’Driscoll best summarised by Pat Flynn’s mantra “solutions, not problems!”.

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

Louise: An awakening is well underway about work-life boundaries in this ‘always-on’ digital age and it will take bold, imaginative leadership to spearhead the change I feel is needed to keep the brightest talent motivated and invested. True flexible working (not a model that involves fitting five days of work into four paid days!) is increasingly viewed by employees as a core issue, not a luxury.   I recall recently seeing the topic described as an ‘evolve or die’ moment for business and this resonated with me.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Louise: A very special friend gave me a framed print of Max Ehrmann’s. Desiderata recently and I take comfort and inspiration from it every day. It is a timeless reflection on life and perspective.  I love it and looking at it reminds me of her kindness!

Inspiration from Ann Marie Phelan, Enteprise & Innovation Manager at IADT

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Ann Marie Phelan, Enteprise & Innovation Manager at IADT to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Ann Marie: I am currently working as the Enterprise & Innovation Manager at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology (IADT). My role involves working with high tech start-up companies which have the potential to scale internationally. To that end, we deliver an enterprise development programme (the New Frontiers Programme) at the Media Cube – IADT’s on-campus start-up incubation centre. This programme is run in partnership with Hothouse, at TUD Grangegorman. The brief also involves working with more established companies that are looking to introduce innovation into their businesses by undertaking research & development in an area where they may not possess the knowledge in-house. I have been working at IADT for the past two and half years and I am thoroughly enjoying the fast-paced environment.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Ann Marie: My inspiration comes from the entrepreneurs / company founders that I meet on a daily basis. These people are an eclectic mix of creatives, inventors, business thinkers and rule breakers. I feel very privileged to be able to share in the personal journeys that these people undertake. Observing their tenacity first hand and seeing how they deal with challenges gives me the opportunity to learn different approaches to problem solving and to apply it to my own work. It is often the case that our companies are profiled when they win awards or secure funding but for me knowing the real story behind the headlines and understanding their personal sacrifices makes their success all the sweeter.

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

Ann Marie: To answer that question I would have to reference my mother who has always been a very strong role model for me throughout my life. She has been and continues to be a significant touchstone in terms of guidance on a whole range of matters. There have been many people throughout my career who have influenced the way I operate. At the risk of causing offence to anyone I will answer this question by summarising how these key role models have reaffirmed for me the importance of integrity, the need to listen to “the voices less heard” and the importance of saying “thank you” to those you work with.

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

Ann Marie: Don’t be afraid to ask “what does that mean”? Certainly this advice had particularly relevance for me during my time as a barrister. It is critically important to ask what you do not know. We can all fall into the trap of not wanting to be perceived as lacking knowledge on a topic or not being up-to speed with the latest technology. The simple fact of the matter is that we live in a very fast-paced global economy and there are always people who will know more than you do about a particular matter. However, I have found more often than not that people are only too delighted to share their knowledge.

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

Ann Marie: A feeling of being isolated is something I think is felt both equally for small company founders or leaders of large corporations. Leaders / founders often encounter what I term the “yes minister” effect where employees are not comfortable to give honest feedback, particularly if it goes against the founders/ leaders expressed position. Creating an environment that supports employees to express their own views in a constructive format is to my mind the Holy Grail in terms of capitalising on the untapped potential within an organisation. I’m not sure I have all the answers in terms of achieving this environment but certainly asking people’s views and including “the voices less heard” goes a long way to creating this space.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Ann Marie: The Latin quote from Horace “Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero,” literally meaning “pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the next one”.

I’m a great believer in the notion of seizing the day. I apply this thinking daily in my work, particularly when I am advising entrepreneurs to properly value their own time, which is an expensive commodity. I am constantly reminding the companies I work with to be mindful of this fact. I make the point that if a potential client doesn’t want your product or service, bring on the “No” and then follow it up with “why”. Delaying that journey of discovery is a costly exercise. So “Carpe Diem” and get on with it. If in the unfortunate event that this business isn’t working then change direction or discontinue it. This will enable you to move one step closer to the next great opportunity!

Inspiration from Anne O’Neill, President Elect of Irish Dental Association

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Anne O’Neill, President Elect of Irish Dental Association to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Anne: Within the Irish Dental Association, I hold the position of President Elect for the past 8 months which will change to President at our AGM in May. My “day job” is Assistant National Oral Health Lead for Dental ICT and Public Health and Epidemiology within the HSE, for the past 16 months. Before that I held the position of Principal Dental Surgeon in the HSE for 18 years.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Anne: That’s a tough question. I learned my work ethic from my parents who were primary school teachers. My patients are a source of inspiration- our dental service provides care to children and adults with additional needs. Over the years I have met many parents and carers who are hugely inspirational in how they support and care for patients with additional needs. I believe if we create a service that meets the need of our parents, ourselves and our own children, it will be a service worth having.

Separately to my dental and work inspiration, one of my hobbies is knitting. I get great creative inspiration from knitting friends and some social media platforms.

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

Anne: I have been fortunate within the health service to work with people in many different leadership roles- my Principal Dental Surgeon group when I was new to that position were a great mentoring team, each bringing different strengths to the group, the Area Administrator undertaking risk assessments provided great mentoring to me both in applying risk management and as a parent. I also value the support and learning from the Secretary General of the Dental Association when I first became a member.

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

Anne: The best piece of advice that I have been given is to thank your dental nurse every day, to acknowledge and appreciate those who contribute to the success of the team.

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

Anne: I think that to be a successful leader you have to be ready to take some level of risk, to try the new process/invent the new product/ stick your head above the parapet. I think the biggest challenge to leaders today is social media- while it provides ready access to information, the ability to critically analyse the quality of information is lost. Every one has an opinion on the various platforms and trolling/criticism to the level of personal attack which we hear of every day makes it more difficult to maintain the confidence and knowledge to lead.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Anne: The quotation I probably return to the most is known as the serenity prayer, it has many different associations but I regularly apply it to all sorts of work and personal challenges as a reminder that while none of us can change the world, there are things we can and should change.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

My other favourite is from Aristotle: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Inspiration from Monica Bruni, Chief Financial Officer at Escher Group

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Monica Bruni, Chief Financial Officer at Escher Group to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Monica: I am Chief Financial Officer at Escher Group and I’ve been in that role for approximately 11 months now.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Monica: I think passion is a tremendous source of inspiration for me. I really enjoy what I do so that passion and drive really helps to motivate and inspire me. The opportunity to come in and help grow a business and make it into something truly special is inspiring. At Escher for example, there’s been a lot of positive change recently in terms of restructuring and refocusing our goals. To be able to be a part of that is as exciting as it is inspiring for me.

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

Monica: I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few people along the way who’ve helped guide and encourage me. Strangely enough, their messages have all been pretty similar as well. Be yourself. Be confident. Don’t be afraid to be either.

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

Monica: In my 30+ years in business, I’ve given and been given a fair amount of advice. The one thing that sticks out to me is to trust your gut instinct. I think that also ties into being yourself and feeling confident in yourself and your abilities. If you can do that, you’ll find you have pretty good instincts to help guide you. Seeking advice or guidance from others is important and at Escher we have a great support structure for that; but in the end, trust your gut.

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

Monica: Rapid changes in the marketplace. Many businesses today are operating in a global environment. The rapid rise and expansion of ecommerce has only accelerated that. We see that at Escher every day when speaking with our clients. More businesses (small and large) are embracing and implementing technologies which allow them to compete across borders. With that comes a need to understand and operate effectively in complex technological, geographical, and geopolitical environments.

This increases their demand on technology and increases the need to keep pace with the rapidly changing environment.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Monica: “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.” Over the course of my 30-year career, I feel I can confidently say that being a woman has never held me back. However, when I do look in the rear-view mirror and all the lessons I had to learn along the way, that one definitely stands out. You have to raise your hand and take risks.

It applies to a lot of circumstances in every-day life and in business. Maybe you’d like to get a discount from a vendor you’re working with or looking to advance in your current position; you won’t get it if you don’t ask for it.

I think earlier in my career I was less confident and maybe a little passive. I often sat back and waited for good things to happen rather than going out and making them happen or asking for them to happen.  I felt if I worked hard it would get noticed and just happen. In the end, you don’t (and won’t) get what you don’t ask for.

Inspiration from Niamh Clarke, Head of Quality and Regulatory Affairs, QP & RP with PCO Manufacturing

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Niamh Clarke, Head of Quality and Regulatory Affairs, QP & RP with PCO Manufacturing to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Niamh: My current role is Head of Quality & Regulatory Affairs, QP & RP with PCO Manufacturing Ltd who are the leading parallel importer of pharmaceutical products in Ireland. Having been with the company for 21 years, I have been in my current role and a member of the Senior Management Team for the past three years.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Niamh: I honestly draw inspiration from everywhere. I absorb information from a plethora of different sources, the media (very often radio interviews on my commute), audio books (again on my commute), various written articles. I also draw constant inspiration from my amazing team and colleagues. We’ve been lucky enough in PCO to have a very stable management team and so we communicate and collaborate well giving us the opportunity to continuously strive for excellence.

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

Niamh: My most influential role model in life has been my father and that is primarily down to a number of very key lessons early in life – he instilled in me an incredible work ethic which has remained with me, a very simple but important message that ‘it is just as easy to be five minutes early as five minutes late’ and that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. They probably read as being very basic and very much common sense – but as he also says ‘common sense is not very common’!

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

Niamh: That it is possible to overcome ‘imposter syndrome’. Firstly, by actually recognising and acknowledging it (I needed a little help here – thanks Dearbhalla Baviera) and subsequently by accepting it, albeit in a different guise. Being a good leader does not mean a complete elimination of self-doubt – in fact, a certain amount of self-doubt can lead to an increased level of self-awareness which in turn can augment one’s leadership capabilities. This realisation, relatively recently in my career, has completely changed my outlook for the better.

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

Niamh: Sourcing and retaining talent – we have a huge responsibility to pro-actively develop our teams to have our existing talent conclude ‘I want to stay here’ and also to foster a company culture and vision that makes prospective talent think ‘I want to be a part of that’.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Niamh: ‘A strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink’ – I love this! I recently saw this somewhere and just thought ‘that’s me’!

Inspiration from Patricia Nolan, Head of HR at Blackrock Clinic

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

We asked Patricia Nolan, Head of HR at Blackrock Clinic to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.

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

Patricia: Head of Human Resources for almost 9 years with Blackrock Clinic.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Patricia:  My Inspiration comes from successful people in all walks of life, business, sport, music, politics and the literature and the arts.

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

Patricia: I have been very lucky to have had exposure to some really strong and inspirational leaders throughout my career in both work and college whilst doing an MBA.

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

Patricia: Stay positive and keep moving forward!

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

Patricia: Biggest challenge facing leaders today is communication as leaders are competing with so many mediums. On the one hand it has become instant and immediate but on the other hand it can get lost in all the noise from the other channels coming at people in their daily lives.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Patricia: Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching. Satchel Paige ..Favourite quote as it always makes me smile..

Join us in celebrating these Inspiring and Successful Female Leaders on International Women’s Day 2020

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

 

Each year, March 8th marks International Women’s Day around the globe, and this year the theme is “I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights”.

Voltedge Management would like to share with you the story from these nine Leading 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.

 

Click here to read inspiration from Anne Marie PhelanEnterprise & Innovation Manager at IADT

Click here to read inspiration from Alison McGinleyManaging Director of TaxAssist Accountants Ireland

Click here to read inspiration from Anne O’NeillPresident Elect of Irish Dental Association

Click here to read inspiration from Dee CoakleyCo-Founder & CEO at Boundless

Click here to read inspiration from Fidelma WhelanManaging Director at MacLachlan & Donaldson

Click here to read inspiration from Louise HarrisonEmployment Lawyer & Partner at Flynn O’Driscoll

Click here to read inspiration from Monica BruniCFO at Escher Group

Click here to read inspiration from Niamh ClarkeHead of Quality & Regulatory Affairs, QP & RP with PCO Manufacturing

Click here to read inspiration from Patricia Nolan, Head of HR at Blackrock Clinic

This is an opportunity for Voltedge Management to celebrate these outstanding 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 inspiring words and the contribution they make 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.

RTE 1 Business Show with Richard Curran – Coronavirus in the Workplace

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

Co-managing Director Joyce Rigby-Jones was live on air on the RTE 1 Business Show with Richard Curran on the 28th February, discussing the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Below is an extract from the business show. You can listen to what steps employers should be taking here.

Richard: We’ve also been inundated with queries about the coronavirus and how it might impact workplaces. 

Joyce: We have to be prepared for this. We now have been told we are at high risk and we have to all make sure that we have the proper processes in place. For employers, it’s really important now to make sure that we have a contingency plan, that we put in a policy, if we can, for employees, and we really communicate, because employees are very scared and nervous. We have to be able to show that there are plans in place and that we know what we’re doing.

Richard: Should you have the option of working from home? Should your employer offer that to you, if for example, the coronavirus arrives or expands in Ireland and more people get it and people’s fears grow?

Joyce: Obviously, some employers are very well positions to do this anyway and they will have remote working policies that employees can work at home. Other employers won’t be able to do this, they will be maybe in hospitality, retail, manufacturing, it’s just not a possibility. So what they need is a plan so if there is a coronavirus outbreak in there or near to them, that they have a plan of action to make sure they can mitigate the risks and the problems that will be caused, and also what tot ell the employees, if it’s a case that you think you’ve met someone who might have it, is that good enough to not turn up to work? There must be a plan that you work through and you go to the HSC, work through their advice and make sure that you do in a controlled and managed manner. 

You can contact Voltedge Management directly with any queries or concerns you have on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie

The Benefits of Workplace Coaching

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Coaching is a powerful tool which can have a profound impact both professionally and personally on employees. We all perform at our best when we feel valued, motivated, supported, connected, trusted and happy. However, for many, the fast pace of life along with perceived and real expectations can manifest into stress and a struggle to be top of our game.

Whilst many organisations look at coaching as something more aligned with the development of the senior management and leadership teams, it can be enormously beneficial to all employees.  Ideally organisations will adopt a coaching culture whereby managers are trained to empower their teams to build their knowledge and experience and allow them to input into the business with confidence.

It’s important to remember that coaching is not training, counselling, mentoring or consulting – it is about taking ownership, performance and action. Coaching provides a framework for clear goals and everyone’s experience and needs are different. It is also important that the purpose and goals of the coaching are linked to the goals and objectives of the business. This will ensure it will be valued across the whole organisation. How can the results of the coaching impact the business?

Key benefits to the organisation

  • Employees become more self-aware as they develop the skills to progress into management and leadership roles.
  • It contributes to a more positive working environment which translates into more engaged, motivated and productive employees.
  • It can make it easier and faster to introduce change by enabling empowerment, participation and trust in decision making.
  • Helps build resilience and provides the tools to deal with conflict, difficult relationships and situations.
  • Coaching impacts talent management through increased retention rates and becoming an employer of choice.

Resulting in increased productivity and output

Fostering a coaching culture takes time and needs to be a key part of the organisation’s strategy in order to be successful. However, as the culture becomes embedded and the process becomes more consistent and valued, the organisation will begin to see the results.

Where do you start?

Voltedge can work with you to identify the areas that are causing most challenges and the gaps that are impeding the development and growth of your workforce. We will then develop a customised coaching programme that not only addresses these areas but is wholly aligned to your strategic business plan.

We have a panel of experienced coaches who work with diverse sectors, groups and individuals which means we can provide coaches who will match your needs. A successful coaching programme depends on the positive relationship between coach and coachee.

We can help to embed the culture into your workplace with “Lunch and Learn” style workshops and provide training for managers to enable them to coach their own teams.

If you would like more information on the Voltedge Coaching Programme please contact us on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie

The Importance of Having a HR Strategy

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

We often think that a HR Strategy is something that only large organisations have in place, but that should not be the case. A HR Strategy is critical for all types of business – be it start up, SME or larger corporation. Many studies have shown that companies who have well defined HR practices that align with the company’s business goals achieve greater results, improved financial performance and a more engaged workforce. Companies without a clear people plan are at risk of losing or never creating a competitive advantage. 

There are many different types of HR Strategies, but fundamentally, they are all based on the same principle of ensuring that the organisation can attract, engage, motivate and retain productive employees.  The key to a successful HR Strategy is understanding your business goals and ensuring you develop a clear people plan that will help you deliver the outcomes you need to be successful.

A cohesive strategic approach to attracting, managing and motivating your people will provide better engaged employees and ultimately aid retention. Having an appropriate HR Strategy in place means you are saving significant costs which can include the cost of having disengaged employees in the workplace, increased sickness or absenteeism and the cost of replacing employees. These potential cost savings along with the other benefits, such as increased profits and productivity provide a strong basis for developing a robust HR Strategy.

A good HR Strategy will identify and priorities the interventions that are appropriate to the size of your organisation (small, medium or large), the phase of growth of the business, the company culture and the financial resources available.

Voltedge can help you develop a pragmatic HR Strategy that will be relevant to your business, its industry and culture and will be designed to deliver practical and cost-effective solutions for your people. Call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to speak to an expert.

Talent and Recruitment February 2020

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

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.

Dalkey Pharmacy

Pharmacy Sales Assistant

Part-Time Pharmacist

Pharmacy Technician

PCO Manufacturing

Regulatory Affairs Specialist

ThinScale Technology

Digital Marketing Manager

Other

Planning Consultant

Coronavirus – What Can Small Organisations Do to Prepare?

Monday, February 10th, 2020

With the real risk of a pandemic affecting Ireland with the coronavirus spreading across countries and borders, SMEs in Ireland will hopefully not be affected but should be aware of the risks and have a plan ready. With no vaccine as yet developed and over 16 countries now affected, Deloitte issued some excellent advice which we have developed to work for Irish SMEs:

  • Have a plan of action ready to implement:

If an employee is potentially infected and needs to be quarantined, you need to consider what to do with all your other employees. Recruiting firm, Indeed recently announced that they are asking all their employees to work from home for 14 days following a potential risk with an international employee – can you plan for this? Obviously if your business is in hospitality, retail or manufacturing this just isn’t an option. However, thinking about potential options to contain the virus is a responsibility all employers need to be thinking about and preparing for. Do you know what hospital near you is capable of providing quarantine if the need arises etc.?

  • Analyse your RISK:

Assess your potential risk – do you have international employees, employees travelling across Europe/Asia, do you have clients/customers who are based in China etc?
By undertaking a risk analysis you will have a good idea if you need a detailed plan of action, and how in depth this needs to be.

Consider your responsibilities to all your employees – your employees will expect that you are an employer who is determined to provide a safe working environment for them.

If you have business with Asia do you have distribution channels that are at risk?

  • Communicate:

Even if your risk as an organisation is VERY small, your employees will really appreciate knowing that you have considered this, and that you have a potential plan should any risk be identified. Don’t assume that your employees know you have this under control – communicate with them and keep channels of communication open.

  • Policy reviews:

Have you considered if your travel policy is sufficient  – companies need to be constantly monitoring WHO and the Department of Foreign Affairs guidelines? You may need to appoint a manager to take this responsibility on.

  • Suppliers:

Have you reviewed all your suppliers and the potential risks? You could find that a small supplier who is critical to your business is actually shipping their products from China – what is the potential impact to your business if there is a delay in your supply chain?

  • Employee Details:

Review the accuracy of your employee details – if you have international or foreign employees do you have the correct next of kin details – are their contracts and visas up to date? Do an audit to ensure that you have accurate information.

A Good Start to 2020 – How to Leverage Productivity and Increase Your Bottom Line

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

2019 saw Ireland move to a virtually full employment status – something we have not seen since the crash of 2008. This puts additional pressure on employers to attract and retain future employees, and engage with our current people, and there is the constant drive to push productivity, and compete effectively in an environment that is more diverse and changing than ever before.

5 tips to help you start 2020 in a positive and effective way

  1. Measurement: Are you measuring productivity, hours of work and general performance? Have a goal early in 2020 to do this – and/or improve on what you are doing.Employees value clear direction so putting objectives and goals in place is a win-win. Consider if you have your employees effectively utilised – are you maximising on their skills and experience? Undertake an assessment of your employees and make sure you are utilising them to their best ability.
  2. Environment: Introduce at least one green/environmentally friendly goal in 2020: All of us are more attuned and aware of the issues of global warming and the threat to our environment, and employers who embrace changes that support this are employers of choice.
  3. Productivity: One of the major issues employers struggle with is absence and time management. Take an objective to review absence and lates, and to be pro-active in managing employees (it’s normally only a small number of employees but others can become demotivated when they see abuse of this).
  4. Diversity: Aim to drive diversity in 2020 – this may be increasing female representation on the Board and/or management teams, but look at your recruitment policy and plans, diversity within your workforce (whether it is gender/race/age etc.) will be beneficial and valuable to all your employees and gives you a bigger pool of talent to attract from.
  5. Age: This is part of diversity -but we really need to plan for an ageing workforce – think about your demographics and start working on a strategy to ensure you can leverage the talent of older, more mature workers – how is this going to be achieved?

Best wishes for a prosperous and successful 2020 – Voltedge is here to help on all the above at any time. Call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to speak to an expert.

It’s January 2020 – Let’s Celebrate!!

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

A new year, a new decade – what’ s not to celebrate, we made it!

I always reflect at this time of year on what is in store for the next 12 months, what is going to happen or not happen. Magazines, newspapers and websites are full of tips, advice and wisdom to make the next 12 months the best you will ever feel, be and exist. We are constantly being told we need to make changes to our lifestyle, appearance, environment and basically how we live.  So does this mean that every previous year we have not been at our best – can we always be and do better?

Is it not better at this time of year, when it’s dark and gloomy, to look at all the positives in our lives and build on those instead of focusing on the negatives? It’s too easy to get sucked into the latest crazes, fad diets and exercise routines which are very often unsustainable and end up being discarded quickly and simply add to feelings of negativity and failure.

This year look at what’s great in your life, what is working, what makes you smile, what makes getting up in the morning less painful.  Simple things like the smile on your child’s face as they wake up,  meeting your friends for a coffee, your daily walk in the fresh air or challenges such as getting stuck into a work project,  revamping your home, planning your next holiday whatever it is saviour them, make them happen more often and importantly be grateful.

Which is what I’m going to be focusing on this year, being thankful and happy with what I have and endeavour to enhance and grow them. No unreasonable life changes, no negativity and not feeling good enough! I’m going to start a journal, a short daily one which I hope to keep up for the year. Not only will it help focus my feelings and emotions but also my time. And if nothing else will be fun to read back on in years to come.

And we have an extra day this year the 29th of February – make the most of it!! (It’s a Saturday)

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Voltedge Top HR Trends for 2020

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

The working landscape is changing at such a pace with technology advances, the rise of the millennials, societal expectations and workplace disruption that attracting and maintaining employees is becoming more of a challenge.

Voltedge has identified the following trends that we believe are the challenges that employers are increasingly facing going into this new year and decade.  Recognising them and being prepared to confront and respond is going to be core to ensuring ongoing success and growth for all businesses.

1/ Strategic Workforce Planning

This might sound daunting and something that only large corporates do however planning is essential for any business and doesn’t need to be complicated.  Essentially it is matching your business strategy and your future plans with the people you currently employ and will employ into the future.  It is a process that aligns your business needs, challenges and changes to your people strategy.

Voltedge has worked with many clients to develop a methodology to analyse the workforce to identify current and future skills gaps. This provides a clear road map for employee development and the hiring of new talent to ensure alignment with the goals of the business and ultimately the success of meeting those goals.  We get very excited when we see the results of these strategic workforce planning projects come to life over months and years.  If businesses want to retain and gain talent they must be embedding them into the organisation’s strategy and making them an integral part of it.

 

2/ Diversity & Inclusion

We have read and talked a lot about this over the last couple of years, however we believe this is an area that is going to become increasingly more critical for businesses to have integrated into their culture and policies.  It applies to all types of organisations and the benefits of promoting and encouraging this type of environment leads to a much happier, positive and pro-active workforce.  There are lots of ways to introduce initiatives into the workplace, not only from a legal perspective but also socially and culturally.

It can be challenging, particularly if there are individuals who are finding it difficult to embrace such diversity.  Short training courses can have a very positive impact to build awareness within the organisation such as Diversity in the Workplace and Cultural Differences.

 

3/ Flex Work Policies

Again not new news but increasingly flexible options are being seen as important and – for some – this is more important than salaries.  Therefore, this is not something that can be ignored if you are a business that wants to retain your employees and attract new talent. Particularly the younger upcoming cohort, the future of the workforce, are insisting on having flexibility whether that is working from home,  flexi-time, unlimited holidays or extended leave. Businesses are now having to rethink some of their terms and policies.  There is often a reluctance based on fear of introducing such policies however it is proven that they motivate the workforce and when employees are “on” they are “on”.

Employee policies and terms can be a minefield, if you are reviewing current ones or thinking of introducing new policies talk to an expert!

 

4/ Learning and Development

We provide many of our clients with learning and development workshops which are designed around the specific needs of the organisation.  This is so important, as most of us know rolling out generic training to tick a box does not work.  With the Irish talent market squeezed, holding onto good employees is increasingly more difficult.  Offering clear career paths and opportunities will help retain them and supporting their progression with relevant training will not only add benefit to the growth of the business but will motivate and embed the employee into the business strategy and future.  An empowered and engaged employee is productive and loyal.

These are just four areas that will be talking points for all businesses this coming year.  We will be bringing you more as the year goes on and can give you advice and support on any of these to ensure you are prepared. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to speak to an expert.

Voltedge Management

Talent and Recruitment January 2020

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

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.

 

Dalkey Pharmacy

Pharmacy Sales Assistant

Part-Time Pharmacist

PCO Manufacturing

Regulatory Affairs Specialist

ThinScale Technology

Digital Marketing Manager

 

Other

Planning Consultant

 

Join our team!

Human Resources Consultant

Contractor loses unfair dismissal case claiming employment rights

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

In a recent adjudication (IRN November 2019) an IT Consultant lost his case of unfair dismissal – he had claimed that he was an employee and had developed a ‘continuous employment’ with the company.

This IT consultant had been working with this company supplying services as an independent contractor commencing in 1998 but claimed that – over time – ‘the relationship morphed into a contract of service’. He was their main IT person when he started providing services, but the business changed and grew, and by 2002, the services he was offering were full-time and he claimed that he was an integral part of the business.

In defence, the company stated that the individual had never been offered a contract of employment, and that they ceased his contract for services in August 2016.

The contractor stated that he took the same Christmas holidays as all the staff and gave all his available working time to the company. He did not sub-contract his work to anyone else, apart from one occasion, and he dealt with issues when he was away and/or on holidays.

He also stated that the cost of a training course was re-reimbursed by the company.

The Company argued that they always paid the individual on the basis of his invoices, and that he was registered for VAT. He had no entitlement to holidays/leave, and that he provided the same service to more than one business. He was not involved in team meetings (although he claimed that he was their main IT person), and never stated that he was an employee, until his services were terminated.

He was also paid a higher rate than any employee and had his own laptop and mobile phone.

The Adjudicator found that this was not a clear case as ‘each employment situation differs, and each case has to be dealt with on the basis of its particular merits, having regard to existing case law’.

In reaching her decision the Adjudicator stated that one of the points that was important was that the individual was paid ‘considerably more’ than the other IT personnel working as employees, and also he was registered for VAT, even thought this was at the request of the respondent. The adjudicator did not accept that there were such changes of significance that fundamentally altered the relationship between the parties.

This is a very interesting case highlighting the need to be very careful in determining a contract for services with a service provider versus a contract of service with an employee.

Voltedge can provide advice and support to employers in working through similar issues. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to speak to an expert.

Voltedge Management

Looking Ahead to 2020

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

With 2019 drawing to a close, take a moment to look back over what was achieved throughout the year. Were targets met, were they set correctly to begin with? Did your organisation fulfil its commitments to its stakeholders? What were the key learnings around talent?

As the December festivities take hold, take the time to step back and reset. 2020 is a New Year and with it comes unlimited opportunity. Time to set new goals, both personally and within your organisation.

The CIPD HR Practices in Ireland survey 2019 is a valuable document that focuses our attention on the pain points of 2019 and the emerging issues that organisations will face in 2020 and beyond.

The top organisational priorities over the next two years:

  • Talent management
  • Increasing agility/flexibility
  • Leadership development
  • Managing performance

The top HR priorities over the next two years:

  • Employee engagement
  • Coaching for line managers
  • Recruiting and resourcing
  • Culture change

A staggering 84% of organisations experienced skill shortages in the past year, with 43% experiencing voluntary employee turnover. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.8% in November 2019 to remain at the lowest level in almost 13 years, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

As a result, retention and engagement of employees is top of the agenda in 2020.

The survey suggests key strategies for sourcing candidates and growing the talent pipeline:

  • Social media and company website
  • Offering flexible working
  • International recruitment
  • Investment in employer brand
  • Succession planning
  • Offer cross -functional experiences
  • Increasing development opportunities

Finally, well-being at work. Consider how you can help protect your own well-being and also the well-being of those around you in your organisation. Take the time to practice small changes in 2020, that could help improve your own or a colleague’s well-being. Cases of work-related stress are on the rise, particularly related to workload and ineffective management styles. Promoting a culture of work life balance and openness in your organisation can be one way to make positive steps, but can you think of others?

Kate Siberry, Human Resources Consultant

Christmas Wishes from Voltedge

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

The Voltedge Team wishes you and your family a very Happy Christmas and a restful break over the holiday season.

This year we are donating to these two worthwhile charities instead of sending cards or corporate gifts.

The mission of RMHC, Ireland, is to provide a Ronald McDonald House in order to support families whose children are seriously ill in hospital. The Ronald McDonald House provides accommodation and a caring and supportive environment for families whose children are seriously ill and are hospitalised or undergoing medical treatment at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin 12.

 

 

 

 

 

The Specialist Palliative Care unit in Blackrock Hospice opened in September 2003. Annually, over 550 new patients are seen by their community homecare team, with a combined total of almost 12,370 home visits carried out between the two sites. The Day Hospice has in excess of 120 new patients availing of the service, with over 800 attendances annually. The Specialist Palliative Care unit sees over 165 admissions per year.

 

 

 

 

 

The Voltedge office will be closed from Monday 23rd of December until Thursday 2nd of January.

If you require support during this holiday period, please call 01 525 2914 and leave a message or email info@voltedge.ie  and we will respond to you promptly.

Thank you for your business in 2019, and the opportunity to support you and your team. We have enjoyed getting to know your business and look forward to continuing to build a strong working relationship with you in 2020.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Parenting Leave Entitlements

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

The new Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019, which was signed into law on 24 October 2019, will provide parents with an additional right to leave. This right to leave, known as “parent’s leave”, will give new parents two weeks leave from employment. They will receive a state benefit of €245 per week (this is the same current rate which is paid for existing Maternity and Paternity Leave).

This new leave can be taken any time within the first year of their child being born and will be in addition to the rights already in place for maternity, adoptive, paternity and parental leave.  At present, there are a considerable number of different Acts covering different rights of parents, so see below our summary of the key entitlements:

Employers are not obliged to pay employees during a period of parent’s leave, although some employers may ‘top-up’ parent’s leave. A recent IBEC survey found that as many as 18% of employers have decide to provide parent’s benefit above social welfare to all eligible employees, but 47% of employers have decided to pay no -top-up, while 34% have not yet decided. Those paying top-up will have service qualifications ranging from six months to three years, with most having a one-year service requirement.

Liz O’Donovan, Senior HR Business Consultant

Tips for a Healthy Happy Festive Season

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

It’s Christmas, the shops are bulging with all things nice and temptation to avail of the bumper packs, two for one and buy one get one free offers are so hard resist. And that’s just the food and alcohol! Add in the pressure to have a showroom perfect house with themed decorations, enough lights to be visible from the moon and a mountain of beautifully wrapped gifts, plus end of year work deadlines, and the stress levels begin to rise and panic sets in.

It’s easier sometimes to just go with it and deal with the fall out in January – also known as the January blues. This year take a few steps to minimise those feelings and face into the New Year with a bounce and a smile instead.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The CIPD’s Labour Market Outlook and Resource and Talent Planning surveys have closely monitored the impact of Brexit on employment and workforce trends, as well as market perspectives and expectations.

The scarcity of available skills and labour, potentially exacerbated by further reductions post-Brexit once free movement comes to an end, means workforce planning and development should become a priority.

Some 52% of private sector and 38% of public sector organisations responding to CIPD’s Summer 2018 labour market survey said they were only just planning to upskill their existing workforce to address the potential skills shortage. To be able to respond in due time, employers need to assign greater urgency to undertake strategic workforce planning that will help identify the skills and knowledge required now and for the future, which in turn will help to narrow down the focus of the learning and development required.

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

Talent and Recruitment December 2019

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

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.

 

SPADE

Enterprise Centre Manager

ThinScale Technology

Sales Manager

Digital Marketing Manager

Major Account Manager

Your HR Questions Answered – The Festive Season

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

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 a few 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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Nominate a Company Christmas Charityand 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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: We want to give staff a little bonus for Christmas, what’s the best way to do this so that so that they are not paying huge amounts of money in additional taxes?

A: The Revenue have very good guidelines on discretionary bonuses. Generally their advice is that a cash bonus at Christmas should be put through the payroll and PAYE/PRSI and USC applied as normal. Where the bonus is in non-cash form with a value not exceeding €500 PAYE/PRSI and USC need not be applied to that benefit (covered by the one off small benefit exclusion).

If you have a question on working time, rest periods or breaks, please contact us. 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

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

It’s that time of year again, a flurry of activity between the Christmas parties and office lunches – it’s a really fun time to celebrate the year that’s been and to look forward to all that the new year holds in store.

It can also be the time where we encounter some tricky work issues, even for the most seasoned of managers. Take a few minutes to look through this best practice guide and help make sure your team and your company have a fun and enjoyable Christmas season, building on your sense of shared purpose and success and recognising the contribution and hard work from everyone.

Step 1: 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.

 Step 2: Do the company policies apply outside of work too?

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.

Step 3: 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.

Here are a few other important areas to think about this time of year.

Managing Public Holidays

1. Which employees are entitled to a public holiday?

 An employee’s entitlement is dependent on the nature of their contract:

  • 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.

2. 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

3. 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.

3. 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

1. 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?

2. 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 one of our HR experts, and we will guide you through these topical subjects so that you too have a happy and jolly Christmas season. Contact us on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie.

Voltedge Management

Are You Suffering from Busy Syndrome?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

Today everyone is busy! When you ask someone how they are, they invariably will answer busy. This doesn’t give you any insight into how they are actually feeling because they are probably too busy to spend the time talking to you to tell you. We live our lives in a constant state of doing and if we’re not doing we feel we should be doing so we find something to do. And then we’re exhausted and complain that we’ve so much to do and not enough time – an endless cycle or should I say sprint!

Is all this busyness actually productive and healthy?

We’re on constantly, feeling like we have to react and respond to every message, email and request instantly. This means we are not focusing on ourselves and our own goals and plans and therefore our own productivity is lessened.  It also means we are not spending enough time doing the things we really want to or with the people we really care about. We jump from one activity to the next in the workplace, at home and often they are only half completed as a result which leads to more stress and dissatisfaction.

“Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” ~ Tim Ferriss

So, what can we do to help cure this syndrome?

 1/ Have a plan and priorities

Write down all the things you have to do, or think you have to both in and out of work and ask yourself:

  • What would happen if I didn’t do it?
  • Does it need to be done today, tomorrow, this week/month/year?
  • Am I doing it for me or someone else?
  • What is the outcome of my doing it?

And then cut your list of the items that really don’t matter and prioritise the things that do. Make a plan to complete them in a timeframe and continue to build the list so you are always focusing on the stuff that matters. Include time out, walks in the park, cinema trips, meeting up with friends and family as these are things that will really put a smile on your face.

2/ Be aware of time

Value time and you are less likely to spend it in mindless busyness. Be conscious of how you are spending it, you will never get it back so don’t waste it. This mindset is difficult to learn but once you learn to treasure it you will start to live it fully.

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Simple things like reading while waiting for appointments or sitting in a queue, listening to audiobooks or podcasts in the car or while cleaning the house, getting out for a walk or a workout at lunchtime – get creative with time and you will get more done.

 3/ Apply the 80-20 rule

The Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Find out where your 20% should be focused, which efforts and activities are yielding 80% of your desired outcomes and making you happy and which 20% are causing your problems and unhappiness. If you can identify these, you can begin to eliminate your inefficiencies and build on your strengths.

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

4/ Empower yourself

We often complain about being too busy, we become a victim to it and it then becomes a mindset.  We need to make a conscious decision to break that pattern and make changes, empower yourself.

5/ Rest and Sleep

With our 24/7 lifestyles and always on culture, sleep is becoming a luxury for many people.  We all know how important it is, how we can’t function mentally, physically and emotionally to our full capacity without it.  Don’t let your busy schedule impede on a good night’s sleep.  Turn off the phone, say no and rest.  Your time awake will be much more productive.

And especially at this time of year with end of year targets, social events, the intense pressure to create the most perfect Christmas along with all the other things we feel we need to be doing, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself what’s important.

Next time you are asked how you are don’t say Busy answer with how you are actually feeling!

If you need help with time management, goal setting or planning contact Voltedge on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to find out about our learning and development courses.

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

HR Brexit Update

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The EU and the UK have agreed an extension to 31 January 2020 with the aim of ensuring an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

The decision of the UK to leave the EU will result in some changes for Ireland and for EU Partners. It’s important for you to be aware of how Brexit could affect your business.

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

The Introduction of Auto Enrolment Pensions

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

With the latest CSO statistics depicting just 56% of persons as having pension coverage and with what has been described as a looming pensions timebomb, there is increased spotlight on the Government roadmap for pension reform 2018-2023, as we move closer to the New Year.

Specifically, the key proposal is for the introduction of an automatic enrolment scheme by 2022. This proposed mandatory scheme would bring Ireland in line with other OECD countries where we are currently falling behind in this regard. The move would see all private-sector workers over a certain age and income level automatically signed up for a pension scheme into which the employer, the employee, and the State will contribute.

In a major review of pension systems in Ireland, the OECD found that Ireland faces challenges on the financial sustainability of its pension system as the population ages; however, Ireland’s pension spending will be comparatively low in international comparison, despite large projected increases over the next 50 years. The report states that private pension coverage, both in occupational and personal pensions, is uneven and needs to be increased urgently.

The automatic enrolment scheme was formally announced by Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty at the end of October after she obtained Cabinet approval to go ahead with it. Although there are some criticisms, many welcome the proposal, seeing the need for supplementary savings as essential.

Following consultation groups input, the latest proposal looks like it will apply to all employees aged between 23 and 60 earning more than €20,000 a year and not already in a workplace pension scheme. Younger, older and lower paid workers can ‘opt in’. Employees will start paying contributions equal to 1.5% of salary, rising to 6% of salary in their tenth year of employment.

There will be an opportunity to opt-out or take a break but with a mechanism where they will be automatically enrolled once more after three years.

One area that generated much debate in the consultation process was the state contribution and what form this will take. Minister Doherty said this had not been resolved yet and discussions with the Minister for Finance continue. Under the original proposal, the State was going to provide an additional 2% to the savings as an incentive measure.

There were some initial concerns over the future of the State Pension scheme, but Minister Doherty insisted that there are no plans to get rid of the ‘bedrock’ of the system, that the proposed auto-enrolment will be a top up to the scheme.

These future proposals and changes to the parameters of the State pension system are an area to watch as we strive towards improved future financial stability.

Kate Sibbery, Human Resources Consultant

Talent and Recruitment November 2019

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

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.

 

SPADE

Enterprise Centre Manager

ThinScale Technology

Sales Manager

Digital Marketing Manager

Major Account Manager

Inspiration from some of Ireland’s Leading Female Executives

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

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 four 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.

Niamh Cosgrove, Director of Sales & Marketing for MedLab Pathology

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

Niamh: Since 2015 I have held the role of Director of Sales & Marketing for MedLab Pathology. Prior to this I had other managerial positions within Sales, Business Development and General Management in the company since it was first established in 2010. In my current role I am responsible for creating and delivering effective sales and marketing strategies, the delivery of sales budgets set by the board and I also play a crucial role in the success of the company by consistently driving significant growth through the application of strategic planning and analytical skills. I an experienced leader within the pathology laboratory sector having worked in this area for over 13 years, holding roles in business development, account management, sales and marketing. I graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a microbiology degree and then completed my PhD in molecular biology in the Conway Institute at University College Dublin.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Niamh: My inspiration comes from my parents. They are the essence of selflessness and unprecedented love. I’m one of eight children and I can honestly say I have never seen anyone work harder than my Mum and Dad. Their partnership and sharing of responsibilities to raise all of their eight children into successful leaders in their own fields fills me with motivation that no matter what the adversity if you believe in yourself and work hard anything is possible. That’s what they brought us up believing.

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

Niamh: My Principal Investigator during my PhD had an influential impact as a role model for me early on in my career. At the time when I joined her research group as an impressionable new PhD student she had a small team. Over the course of my PhD I watched her work tirelessly on gaining additional funding and saw her establish herself as a leading researcher in the field of endocrine oncology research where she now holds an Associate Professorship. That early influence of a female leader and mentor at the beginning of my career had a lasting effect on me. Over the past 12 months I have appreciated being able to inspire the new younger female generation via the WITS life science forums by contributing and highlighting the opportunities available to students following a life science qualification.

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

Niamh: If at first you don’t succeed, try again! It comes from my parents always teaching me that anything is possible with hard work and determination. There is never only one route to where you want to get to and I think when you realise if you get a knock back or you need to take a step back for a period of time, depending on your life circumstances, that the more “zig-zag” route you take to get to your destination will ultimately shape you for the better. It’s a learning curve along the way and often you actually take more from the more scenic route!

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

Niamh: I believe the challenge is around adapting to changes. We live in a time where technologies like AI and machine learning are disrupting most businesses in a positive way and showing their worth, so leaders need to be ready to embrace the new ways of working and select the one that is most appropriate for their business. In addition we have a changing workforce where Millennials will soon be replaced by Generation Z’s – so the flexibility that these generations are seeking will only grow and companies will need to be ready to embrace more options around freelancing and working from home where possible.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Niamh: “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”

I was given a card with this quote on it from a friend during a very difficult time in my career where I was being challenged constantly. The very fact she saw the resilience in me that I couldn’t at that time meant so much to me and gave me the push I needed to step up and not give in!

 

Marie-Louise Kelly, CFO of ORIX Aviation

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

Marie-Louise: I am CFO of ORIX Aviation, and have held that position for over three years.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Marie-Louise: I work with a fantastic team of people within ORIX Aviation. They are smart, professional and hard working in an environment that is challenging, interesting, dynamic and very rewarding. It is a pleasure to work with these colleagues and their drive, ambition and enthusiasm pushes me further to achieve our goals and strategic aims.

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

Marie-Louise: I have worked closely for most of the last ten years with James Meyler, firstly when he was Chief Commercial Officer and now as our CEO. He has been a very important mentor for me, always providing sound guidance and feedback. Most importantly he has provided encouragement and support to me. This was particularly evident when I was promoted to CFO upon returning from maternity leave.

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

Marie-Louise: Not to assume that your manager intuitively understands how you feel or what your development goals are. Constructive discussions need input and thought from both the manager and staff member.

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

Marie-Louise: More pronounced generational shifts mean that there are cross sections of the workforce with very different work related expectations, motivations, what the ideal work / life balance is, how they value benefits, how they want to be managed and the type of development needs that they have. Leaders need to develop an organisation and culture that can be flexible in meeting expectations across these generations at any given point in time.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Marie-Louise: “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” – Amelia Earhart

Many good ideas can get lost between suggestion and implementation. If we want to succeed, we need to follow through and encourage people alongside us to do the same.

 

Michelle Maguire, CEO of Ireland’s Blue Book

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

Michelle: CEO of Ireland’s Blue Book. 11 years with Ireland’s Blue Book.

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Michelle: Every year we hire graduates and I find their energy inspiring and infectious. I also work with hoteliers who have welcomed guests for over 50 years, and I find their energy equally inspiring. I am privileged to work with people who are passionate about what they do, and I am energised by that positivity.

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

Michelle: I have had many managers and colleagues who I have learnt from over the past 25 years.  I think you have to be a magpie collecting from everyone around you, absorbing expertise from different disciplines.

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

Michelle: Focus on the things you can control. If something is out of your control, there is no use wasting time or energy on it. The challenge is identifying what is not within your control.

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

Michelle: Speed of change; you must be extremely agile and responsive. Leaders need to be highly adaptable to make the most of the pace of change and innovation in their environment.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Michelle: “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” I think it is the challenges that build our strengths. That said some plain sailing is sometimes needed.

 

Sinead Mooney, Managing Director of RED C Research

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

Sinead: My current role is Managing Director of RED C Research.  Myself and Richard Colwell set up the business in 2003 so I’ve been in the role since then – 16 years and have never looked back!

Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Sinead: I think you need to draw inspiration from everyone and everything.  In a more active sense it is from my colleagues and clients who I am working with constantly.

But also in the down times simply going for a walk or people watching can be great sources of inspiration for us as market researchers where ultimately we are trying to understand people.

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

Sinead: I think we learn from so many people in the course of a career.  However, my parents were my first role models.  My Mam ran her own business and ended up on the board of Bord Failte representing the very large B&B sector.  They taught me about hard work, how to interact with people and I was given encouragement no matter what avenue I wanted to pursue.

When I started working, I was fortunate enough to work with Robin Addis, Roger Jupp and Elaine Malcolm in Lansdowne Market Research at the time, who were all mentors who gave of their time freely to teach me and guide me.  I’m sure I have not thanked them enough over the years.

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

Sinead: Two similar pieces of advice “be nice to everyone on the way up, cause you never know who you’ll meet on the way back down” and “manners cost nothing.”  In my view these are very important to remember in your working career.

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

Sinead: There are many challenges business leaders face these days with constant new information, thought leaders and legislation.

One of the biggest challenges in the past number of years is spotting and nurturing good talent.  In the current climate the uncertainty businesses are facing due to the current political and economic landscapes are challenging and with that comes the challenge of knowing when to grow and knowing when to consolidate.

Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?

Sinead: “Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have.”

I can’t remember where I read it, but it was early on in my career and my friend did it up as a painting for me with the words included which I treasure.

 

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.

Employment Status – The Importance of Getting It Right

Monday, October 14th, 2019

Employment status is increasingly important as modern working practices, such as in the ‘gig economy’, become more commonplace. Employers need to understand what their responsibilities are in this new environment, not least because of the legal risks involved if they don’t.

A worker’s employment status is not a matter of choice. It depends on the terms and conditions of the job. Usually it is clear whether an individual is employed or self-employed. If it is not obvious, the checklists below will help in deciding this.

It is important to note that the legal tests for tax (including social welfare) purposes and to determine employment rights are not the same. When looking at the criteria, you must consider the working conditions and the employment as a whole. The main question will always be whether they work ‘as a person in business on their own account’. This will help decide if the person is a free agent with economic independence from an employer.

How to determine if an individual is an employee:

While all the following factors may not apply, an individual is normally your employee if:

  • you control how, when and where the work is carried out
  • they supply labour only
  • you pay them a fixed hourly, weekly, or monthly wage
  • they cannot sub-contract their work
  • you supply the materials for the job and all equipment other than the small tools of the trade
  • they are not exposed to personal financial risk in carrying out the work
  • they do not assume any responsibility for investment and management in the business
  • they cannot profit from the management, scheduling or performance of the work
  • you set the work hours
  • they carry out work for you or your business only
  • you pay expenses to cover subsistence or travel
  • they are entitled to extra pay or time off for overtime.

 How to determine if an individual is self-employed:

While all the following factors may not apply to the job, individuals are normally self-employed if they:

  • own their own business
  • are exposed to financial risk (for example they may have to bear the cost of redoing faulty or substandard work carried out under the contract)
  • assume responsibility for investment and management in the business
  • can profit from the management, scheduling or performance of the work
  • have control over what, how, when and where the work is done and whether they do it personally
  • are free to hire other people, on their terms, to do the work which has been agreed on (i.e. they can subcontract the work)
  • can provide the same services to more than one person or business at the same time
  • provide the materials for the job or equipment and machinery necessary for the job
  • have a fixed place of business where materials or equipment can be stored
  • cost and agree a price for the job
  • provide their own insurance cover (for example, public liability cover)
  • control the hours of work in fulfilling the job obligations.

We recommend that employers conduct a review of all of their contracts for engagement of services so that they accurately establish the appropriate legal status.

Voltedge Management helps organisations develop user friendly contracts and template contracts to ensure the appropriate engagement of employees and contractors. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to speak to an expert.

To Change or Not To Change

Monday, October 14th, 2019

Do you need to transform, revitalise or re-structure your business?

Companies must adapt or die – this is a mantra that is so true (Kodak, Radio Shack, Blackberry, HMV to name a few), and companies need to constantly consider change – even when it doesn’t seem to be a major issue. There are often key critical business decisions that will drive success or failure, but – from a people point of view – we need to constantly push change and embrace innovation to succeed.

We outline 5 flags that inform a business that they need to consider change and re-organisation:

  1. Static or sliding revenue: This may be due to external business factors, but if not, this is a real sign of stagnation in the business
  2. Demographics: Have you had change in your senior and middle management teams within the last 3 years? If not – why not? A strong business will have natural fluidity within its senior teams, it allows organisations to bring in different thinking, diversity and challenge of the status quo – is that happening?
  3. Employee retention/attrition: Are you losing a significant percentage of employees – why? What is the feedback from the exit interviews – read between the lines! If they are leaving because of their manager, or because of fundamental issues within the business then you need to consider change – quickly
  4. Risk analysis and skills inventory: Have you looked at the risk of losing critical employees (both technical and managerial), and also do you know what your critical skills are? By doing these exercises you will understand if you have the right expertise and people, and also if they are at risk of leaving -then you can plan and consider actions
  5. Gap Analysis: Have you looked at your strategic Manpower planning and analysed what is needed in 3-5 years’ time to sustain and grow your business compared to your current structure?

The best companies constantly change and value innovation – so take time out to do a business change analysis exercise – it may make a huge difference to your business success – no matter what level of change and/or organisational redesign you opt for.

Voltedge Management supports its clients through all types of change, looking at minor re-structuring to major organisational transformation and design. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to speak to an expert.

News from the Courts – Employees Rest Breaks

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Earlier this year, 92 employees at Paddy Power who were denied rest breaks were awarded €90,000 in compensation by Workplace Relations Commission who found in their favour.

The recent case of A Store Manager v A Retail Pet Shop is again a timely reminder of the necessity for employers to ensure that employees are not expected to be at the employer’s disposal during daily and weekly rest breaks.

These recent legal trends in Ireland are very much in line with EU direction on this – focusing on providing employees with adequate rest breaks and on protecting the quality of employee downtime.

In the case of A Store Manager v A Retail Pet Shop, the Complainant lodged a number of claims for alleged breaches of the Organisation of Working Time Act (“the Act”) following the termination of her employment.

The Complainant alleged that the employer had breached her rights under Section 13 of the Act by requiring her to remain available to take work calls during her weekly rest periods. She claimed that had been instructed by her manager that she was required to have her work phone switched on at all times even when she was off duty and claimed that the manager constantly called her on her days off about minor issues and that this disrupted her family and personal life regularly and interfered with family activities.

Records of telephone calls between the Complainant and her Manager which occurred outside of her normal contractual daily working hours showed several telephone calls and text messages which occurred later than 9pm. An email sent by the Complainant’s manager to the Store Managers read as follows “I expect every Store Manager to have their phone switches on at all times, unless you are on holidays and have handed the phone over to your assistant manager, it is your responsibility to have your phone on you at all times…”.

The WRC was satisfied that the Complainant was required to be contactable by her Manager while on her weekly rest periods and that she was in effect at her employer’s disposal for that period of time. The WRC found that the requirement that the Complainant be contactable by her manager during the periods she was off duty amounted to an interruption of the Complainant’s weekly rest period and that the employer had contravened Section 13 of the Act. The WRC Adjudicator found that the Complainant’s claim in this regard was well founded.

Key takeaway:

The case is interesting as it represents a further example of the recent trend both in Ireland and the EU generally in favour of prohibiting employers from blurring the lines between working time and rest time.

While there can be some limited exceptions, as a general rule of thumb employees should be allowed to enjoy their statutory rest breaks without being disturbed by their employer.

As a reminder, all Workers are entitled to:

  • A 15-minute break for the first four and a half hours worked and if they work more than six hours, they are entitled to 30-minute break.
  • 11 consecutive hours rest in any period of 24 hours
  • 24 consecutive hours rest in any period of 7 days and this should normally follow on from one of the 11-hour rest periods mentioned above, or as an alternative your employer can give you two 24-hour rest periods in a week if it follows a week, in which you did not get any 24-hour rest periods. Unless your contract states otherwise the 24-hour rest period above should include a Sunday.

Voltedge Management

Voltedge Management to Support The 2019 Golf Classic in Aid of the Centre for Brain Health

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Voltedge Management were delighted to support The 2019 Golf Classic in aid of the Centre for Brain Health, Dublin Neurological Institute, which took place on Friday 20th September in the Hermitage Golf Club, Lucan.

The work carried out by the team at The Dublin Neurological Institute improves the care and services available to neurological patients here in Ireland. This year approximately 44,000 people across Ireland will be diagnosed with a neurological condition, that’s in addition to the 700,000 people already diagnosed. Sadly Ireland has one of the lowest number of Consultant Neurologists per head of population in the entire western world and so fundraising is very important to continuing the great work carried out.

For more information or to donate to this very worthy cause, click here.

For additional information on this centre of excellence, click here.

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

Brexit could have very significant implications for HR managers. IBEC looks at how Brexit might affect key employment issues.

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

What Are Employers Really Concerned About For The Year Ahead?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

 

The Voltedge Management team of HR Consultants, Associates and support staff had a most enjoyable afternoon in the company of the CIPD Ireland Director Mary Connaughton at our recent Quarterly Off Site. It was a great opportunity for our team to discuss and explore the broad range of People Management topics that are coming up as particular important for companies.

Our team of experienced HR Professionals working across all sectors with both Irish and International clients get to see first-hand, the drivers and enablers that are so key to business success. We recognise the challenges experienced by leaders and people managers, and their need to juggle the commercial and talent management requirements while at the same time build high performing teams across all areas of the business.

This CIPD briefing and analysis of their 2019 survey was a very timely and worthwhile opportunity as Voltedge maps out our plans for the final quarter of 2019 and review of our range of services including Recruitment Management, Onboarding & Engagement, HR Compliance & Best Practice, Wellbeing & Healthy Workplaces and Management & Leadership Development.

And as we get ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for 2020, this event provided us with the chance to really look and reflect on what it really is that employers and companies are concerned about for the year ahead.

The results of the CIPD HR Practices in Ireland 2019 survey threw up some very topical agenda items that we also witnessed in the support needs of our clients. Topics such as Skills & Retention, Gender Pay Gap, Diversity and Inclusion, requests for more Flexible Working models, Health Wellbeing and Mental Health etc.

Here are a few of the highlights worth looking at again and building into your plans for 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a good time to look at planning and budgeting for the future needs of your talent. Remember to get in touch and talk to any one of our experienced HR Specialists to assist you map out your requirements and align your people strategy with your business strategy. We’d love to talk to you about how we can assist, call Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie to speak to an expert.

Voltedge Management

Talent and Recruitment October 2019

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

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.

 

Escher

Senior Software Engineer

PCO Manufacturing

Accounts Administrator

Assistant Accountant (Part Qualified)

Sales Manager – Pharmaceutical

ThinScale Technology

Key Account Manager

Senior Sales Executive

Sales Development Representative

 

Other

Medical Sales Engineer

Senior Buyer – Pharmaceuticals

Talent and Recruitment September 2019

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

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.

 

Escher

Software Engineer

MediaHQ

Sales Executive – SaaS

PCO Manufacturing

Assistant Accountant (Part Qualified)

Sales Manager – Pharmaceutical

ThinScale Technology

Sales Development Representative

 

Other

Medical Sales Engineer

Senior Buyer – Pharmaceuticals

B2B Networking HR Seminar Presented by Voltedge Management

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

 

Save the Date: B2B Networking HR Seminar presented by Voltedge Management

Date: Tuesday 17th September 2019

Venue: IADT Campus, Deansgrange 

Time:  6.00pm – 8:00pm

Some of the subjects covered in this seminar will be: new developments in case-law and dealing with social media, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace effectively.

If you wish to book a spot, please email gabby@dlrchamber.ie.

Are You a Family-Friendly Employer?

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Businesses can establish a work environment that enable employees to effectively balance and fulfil their work and family responsibilities at the same time.

Recently I was attending a meeting with a new client in their boardroom and thought I heard a  baby’s toy being squeezed. I assumed I was imagining it until it happened again, and then I looked across the room only to see a baby sitting in a cot in the corner playing. Her mum was one of the 2 people meeting me, and she said – oh yes that is my baby – my MD (who was with us at the meeting) is very good about allowing me to bring her in if I need to.

What a difference from 5 – 10 years ago – when women could not even consider taking much time off for maternity leave – whilst now most mothers can (with holidays and unpaid leave) take up to 12 months off following the birth of a child.

In the Irish Times recently, it showed a video of the Speaker of the Houses of Parliament in New Zealand, Trevor Mallard, feeding and comforting a 6-week-old baby of one of the MPs, whilst he still managed to control the session in the House. He hopes that he is setting the right example as New Zealand already has only the second elected world leader with its  Prime Minister  Jacinta Arden who gave birth and took maternity leave – she continues to champion family friendly policies throughout her country and beyond.

How can you be family friendly and continue to run a competitive, profitable, and engaging business for employees? Here are our 5 tips:

  • Embrace the fact that your female employees are as critical to the business as males, and that preparing for maternity/paternity/parental leaves in a positive way can be a real plus for employees – who will show more loyalty and dedication if they know that you are genuine in supporting them.
  • Make sure that your policies really are family friendly and not just covering a compliance need. Even offering a parent’s return to work course can be really helpful. Give a returning mum time to re-adjust by taking a phased return, and/or by having an induction plan (as if they are new employee – 12 months out is as good as starting a new job).
  • Have social events that give families an opportunity to be involved in the workplace- this doesn’t need to be costly. Many companies offer a ‘bring your child to work day’, ‘bring your parent to work day’ (depending on what your demographics are) – or organise a fun afternoon in the summer.
  • Consider flexible working if you don’t do it already- some companies have real difficulties with this as they need consistent working hours (Call centres, manufacturing line businesses etc.) but most businesses can allow some flexibility – even if it is only in place during term-time or summer time (early/late starting – time off at lunch to collect a child etc.) A flexible employer will find that this type of benefit is far more valuable than financial increases that only get taxed.
  • Encourage work-life balance – yes of course you want your employees to work smart and hard, however if they are working excessive hours, working at home in the evenings, taking conference calls late into the night – and trying to manage family life – they won’t have the energy for both – they will become burnt out and your business will suffer. Work-life balance can mean that you have happy, reliable, and loyal employees who value the culture you have developed.

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.

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the UK were to leave the EU without an agreement 1.2 million jobs across the Continent would be lost.

According to the study commissioned by the Belgian government and carried out by Leuven University, the UK would suffer the most with 500,000 job losses.

Ireland would lose 50,330 jobs, placing it among the most badly hit countries in terms of jobs lost as a percentage of its working population.

Click here to read the potential no-deal Brexit could have on Europe.

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

Talent and Recruitment

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

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.

 

Escher

Lead QA/Test Engineer

Technical Solutions Architect

Software Development Lead/Manager

Software Engineer (.Net).

Financial Accountant North America

Sales Engineer 

Senior Systems Engineer

IMCA

Chief Executive

PCO Manufacturing

Assistant Accountant (Part Qualified)

The Order of Malta

Business Development Executive

 

Other

Research Scientist Molecular Biology/NGS

Medical Sales Engineer

Senior Buyer – Pharmaceuticals

Employment Contracts – Are Your Contracts Compliant?

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

With recent changes in legislation, there are more requirements on employers to issue contracts in a timelier fashion and also to be careful about content and wording – we list below some of the issues to look out for:

  • Issuing a contract: Employers must now give a prospective employee either an offer letter or a full contract within 5 days of commencing the job. There are a number of basic details that must be included so if you can’t get a contract organised quickly, we suggest that you issue an offer letter with the basic legal requirements setting out the 5 core terms (Name of Employee and Employer, Address of Employer, Expected duration of contract if fixed term or temporary, Rate and Method of calculating pay and Expected normal length of working day and week) and follow up with a full contract when you have this ready
  • Fixed-term contracts: These contracts are really beneficial – particularly for SMEs who can’t either afford to take an employee permanently or have a short-term need to cover. A recent ruling however has raised an issue that is important to be aware of. If you state in the fixed-term contract that you may extend it at the end of the contract period, but that there will be contingencies to be considered before you extend the contract – such as working certain hours, or completing satisfactory service – then the fixed-term contract may be considered void, as you are imposing contingencies on future employment that hasn’t been confirmed. In a recent case in the High Court a school was told that the fixed-term contract was not valid, as they had imposed contingencies that implied a permanent contract of employment – even though a fixed-term contract was given. So, ensuring appropriate wording in fixed-term contracts is essential.
  • Fixed-purpose contracts: This is an excellent way of covering particular situations – such as maternity leave, long-term parental leave, etc. However, it is essential that the terms are clear. If you employ an individual to cover a maternity leave, they should not be placed on other tasks, or transferred into other work/positions as this will breach the terms of the contract. Again, care must be taken in the application of this contract.
  • What if you have NO contract in place? Don’t panic- you are non-compliant, and the main issue is to ensure that you resolve this. Issuing retrospective contracts is certainly better than no contract – just take care again in the wording and the detail and take advice if the employee is unhappy or unwilling to sign the contract.

Employment contracts – well written and appropriate – are both essential and very valuable for both the employer and employee -so taking the time to ensure that they are compliant, appropriate and customised to suit the business – is really worthwhile. For further information please contact Voltedge for expert advice. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Voltedge Management

New Parental Leave Regulations and Their Impact on Employers

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

New Parental Leave Regulations effective September 1, 2019 – employees will be entitled to 22 weeks unpaid parental leave which is an additional 4 weeks on current entitlements. This will then increase by a further 4 weeks to 26 weeks from 1 September 2020.

The new Parental Leave Act also increases the maximum age of the child for whom parental leave can be taken, allowing parents to take parental leave for children up to 12 years of age – instead of  8 years.

Employees will be able to take the leave in blocks, and this is clearly stated in the legislation, however many employees reach agreement with their employers to take the leave in other forms – such as 1 day per week.

Employers need to consider what is suitable for their business, as they will need to allow for parental leave, but also enable the business to run, and small organisations may find certain types of leave too difficult (such as an employee in a Call Centre or Manufacturing taking 1 day/week). The employer must consent to leave taken in other forms as opposed to 1 or 2 blocks.

Larger companies can agree to, and manage, fragmented parental leave, so it is vital to word the parental leave policy to ensure it is both compliant with the new legislation, but also workable for the organisation.

There is no data available on the number of employees availing of parental leave as it is unpaid (unless otherwise agreed by companies), however it is clear that many females avail of further parental leave at the end of maternity leave, and again to have more time with young children.

More data will become available from November 2019 onwards, as this new scheme will provide 2 weeks paid parental leave during the first 12 months of a baby’s life – this leave will be available for either the mother or father of the child.

Voltedge supports clients in wording their policies to ensure that the policies are appropriate for the organisation, as well as ensuring compliance.

Voltedge Management

Performance Related Pay – Is It For Your Organisation?

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Every employer wants a motivated employee that is proactive, driven, focused and will go above and beyond for the organisation. These are the type of employees that add real value and can help transform businesses. So how do organisations find such employees and how do they keep them motivated?

Organisations use different ways to motivate employees, depending on the type of business, industry and desired outputs.  One of these is performance related pay.

Employee performance essentially involves quality and quantity of output, their presence at work, timeliness of output and helpful nature. There is an increasing trend with large companies utilizing performance related pay policies, such as IKEA, PepsiCo and AXA Insurance.

Axa has recently implemented a new pay agreement, this is in line with staff performance ratings which has been negotiated with their unions. This pay agreement will drive pay increases and there was a very high united ballot by the employees to introduce this scheme – where an employee can potentially drive an additional 0 – 3.25% additional payment depending on their performance ratings.

For performance related pay to be truly effective the organisation must follow correct procedure. This includes having effective arrangements in place to define, measure, appraise and manage the performance of each employee.  Truly effective performance management programmes work because the senior management team are committed to fairness, transparency and good application.

Key advantages of a performance related pay policy include:

  • Managers can use a defined framework for setting goals.
  • Improved individual productivity and performance.
  • Effective way of dealing with poor performance, easier to measure if an employee hasn’t reached targets
  • Can assist in retaining staff
  • Provides a direct incentive for employees to achieve defined work targets and goals
  • Clearly defines what the company wants to achieve
  • Gives a platform for a performance based company culture

However, to create a sustainable high-performing workplace, there must be a healthy balance of both financial and non-financial rewards. This must be carefully designed to ensure that the employees feel they are truly supported. Utilizing solely a performance related pay incentive can have a negative impact on your workforce and even impact the organisation’s culture.

Having a culture where the only reward for hard work is money can breed a very individualistic work environment. The phrase “one shoe fits all” really doesn’t apply here, especially when administered throughout all departments. Some employees are motivated through extrinsic rewards like money whilst others are motivated intrinsically through the performance of certain tasks.

To really achieve a motivated workforce it is essential you understand your employees and what they really value. This stems from which values the CEO feels are most important. Understanding these will really help build and influence the real culture they desire.

There is no right or wrong way to approach this system of motivation and each organisation is uniquely different. Performance related pay may be an effective policy in motivating the staff in one organisation, but well motivated employees can be motivated by other non-financial motivators such as flexible working, training and development, career progresssion etc.

For further advice or information on different and effective ways of motivating your employees and driving best behaviours, please contact our Operations Manager Ingrid on 01 5252914 or email info@voltedge.ie.

Voltedge Management

We’re hiring!

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Due to our ongoing growth and expansion, we have an opportunity for an experienced HR Business Partner to join our team in Dublin. You will join our talented team of HR Consultants, OD specialists, Employment Law professionals and L&D experts.

We are a customer focused team who consistently strive for excellence in what we do and how we deliver support to our clients, providing thought leadership across a broad range of HR topics, and driving innovation in smart working models and solutions focused interventions.

This role will give you a chance to work with like-minded colleagues, in a fast-growing, dynamic business that values your skills, experience and potential, has a shared vision and ambition to really drive both business and innovation in HR and Management solutions to new and existing clients, and work in a flexible manner, either on a full time or part basis.

Click here to apply: https://my.hirehive.io/voltedge/jobs/46898/hr-business-partner-dublin

Stressed Out by Your Summer Holiday?

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

It’s summer, everyone has either gone on holiday, is on holiday or planning a holiday – it’s holiday season. We pack up our lives and escape to unwind, relax, explore, discover, indulge, laugh and enjoy ourselves outside of our routine lives.  Sounds great and stress free? For many people, being away from the workplace on holiday adds an additional layer of stress to the skyscraper tower of stress that many of our lives have become and the whole reason we go on holiday – to knock that tower down!

Here are some tips to avoid tipping your tower over pre-holiday and to maintaining the holiday glow for longer post-holiday:

Make lists

Three to be exact!  One which lists everything you are working on and the corresponding status – waiting on feedback, a decision, client response for example.

Two will be your priority list – the things you must first address when you get back from holiday. Keep this list short!

The third list is your personal checklist with everything you need to bring, do and sign off on before holidays from passport to booking the dog into kennels.

Do a handover

Delegate any tasks or pieces of work that must be actioned while you are away. Clearly document what needs to be done, who is doing it and when. Ensure all stakeholders are on board and committed.

Share lists one and two above with a trusted colleague in case of an emergency!

Tidy up

Do a desk clean up, get rid of any documents, files, post-its that are no longer needed.  Coming back to a clean and ordered work environment will be a much nicer experience.

Out of Office

Don’t forget to put your out of office message on your phone and email.  That way you can be away knowing that any urgent requests will be dealt with and your contacts will know you are away and not simply ignoring them.  It is so important when you are on holiday to be on holiday and not checking your emails and phone.  With our 24 ON society there is often the perception that we must be available no matter what the circumstances.  Be clear with your manager and team that you are only contactable for emergencies and allow yourself to have that well earned break.

Buffer day

If you can, plan your holiday with a day in between coming home and going back to work, this will give you an opportunity to settle at home, sort out your things and get ready to go back to work in a calm and refreshed manner.

First day back

Arrange a quick update with your manager/team and check your lists for priority actions. Don’t panic with the endless list of emails that is awaiting you – start from the top and you’ll soon be caught up.  Stay in holiday mode by ensuring you leave on time and plan activities for the rest of the day.

Lastly – plan your next holiday and have something to look forward to in the diary.  Don’t let that tower build up too high!

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The volume of trade between Ireland and the UK, estimated at over €1 billion in goods and services being exchanged between our countries on a weekly basis, means that Ireland will wish to keep trade with the UK as open as possible.

At the same time there is likely to be a wish to capitalise on the move of multinationals out of the UK, should this arise. It was reported that the IDA have approached 1,200 multinationals to assure them that Ireland’s future remains aligned with the EU. Government sources have also reiterated Ireland’s commitment to the 12.5% rate of corporation tax.

Click here to read the potential impact Brexit could have on Ireland.

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

Employee Access Requests – What Should Employers Do

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation was introduced in May 2018, there has been a marked increase in the number of subject access requests from current and former employees. Some of these are being used as a litigation threat by unhappy/aggrieved employees, and there is no doubt that such requests can take up a huge amount of time by managers/employers in finding and collating data.

So, what should an employer do if you receive a subject access request?

  • Put one person in charge of gathering and collating the data required for the request. Give them the time and authority to request all data.
  • From receipt of the request, ensure that you are ready to provide all the data within the one-month deadline.
  • If the request is linked to a particular issue/grievance/case, negotiate to refine the scope of the search for data to data explicitly linked to this particular issue. This can be really important if you are dealing with an employee or ex-employee with considerable service.
  • Review all the data and make sure that it is appropriate and within the scope of the request. You need to be very conscious of not releasing any data that would compromise other employee(s)’s details, and/or compromise security/confidentiality within the organisation.
  • Maintain a copy of all documentation provided to the requester.

All employers should be ensuring they have a Data Privacy Policy in place which clearly outlines either within the policy, or as a separate policy, a record retention policy which sets out the maximum retention periods for employee records and the rationale for keeping such records.

Ensure managers and HR fully understand the breadth of a data request and how to manage the process.

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

Monday, July 15th, 2019

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.

 

Escher

Software Engineer

Financial Accountant

Senior Business Systems Analyst

Sales Director EMEA

Financial Accountant North America

Senior HR Generalist

Senior Product Manager

Product/Solutions Marketing Specialist

Sales Engineer

Senior Systems Engineer

IMCA

Chief Executive

PCO Manufacturing

Senior Buyer – Pharmaceutical

Voltedge

HR Business Partner

HR Graduate

Other

Medical Sales Engineer

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite early concerns about Brexit’s implications on employment, the proportion of employers looking to increase staff versus those looking to reduce staff has recovered strongly and remains above pre-vote levels. This indicator of continued, robust labour demand is consistent with official employment data evidencing high employment.

Click here to read the impact Brexit has on workforce trends.

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

Scaling for Success – How to Build Your Business

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Date:                    Tuesday June 11th
Venue:                 Fitzpatrick’s Castle Hotel, Killiney
Speaker:              Joyce Rigby Jones, Liz O’Donovan, Voltedge Management

Business plan – understanding how and why you want and need to grow your business – have a strategic reason/not reactive

Managing resources and driving the business – multi-tasking and ensuring you maximise resources

Resourcing – types of resources including interns/contracts/employees/outsourcing/collaboration
How can we – in the network – help each other – talk about synergies/support

We provide focused dedicated HR support with innovative solutions developed to client specific requirements.  Our client-centric approach aims to ensure success at all levels, offering customised interventions to meet challenges and maximise opportunities.

Agenda
7:00pm Open Networking, Refreshments
7:30pm Introductions
7:50pm Scaling for success – how to build your business
8:45pm Networking
9:00pm Finish
Please Email: faiza@nutgrove-enterprisepark.ie to book your place.

The Big Sneeze!

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

It’s that time of year again – the sound of lawnmowers, the smell of freshly cut grass, the bees and wasps buzzing around and the dreaded sound of the SNEEZE! That’s a sound we will be hearing more and more in the coming weeks as allergy season arrives.  For some people this time of the 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 ways to reduce the trigger factors and minimise the effect on suffers in the workplace.

It’s easy for allergans 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 affected?

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.

2/ Breathe easy

Ensure there is clean filtered air circulating the work environment to help reduce pollen and allergans.  For hayfever 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.

3/ Clean 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.

4/ 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 suffers believe they are allergic to one thing when in fact it is something completely different that is setting them off.

5/ Support the sneezers

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 sneezing and snuffling 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

Length of Service Key Issue as HR Lecturer’s Gender Pay Claim Rejected

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

A lecturer in Human Resource Management, who claimed she was paid less than a male colleague, has lost her case at the WRC, with the adjudicator finding she failed to make a prima facie case of both direct and indirect discrimination.

Currently today, there is now a massive campaign on reducing the gender pay gap in Ireland, which stands at 13.9%. As we await the official release of the gender pay gap information bill, there are already a number of gender pay claims that are coming to light. What this article aims to highlight is that not all pay differences are solely based on gender.

As this act gains momentum people in the workplace may be quick to act in making irrational claims justifying the reasoning behind why they are being paid different. However, it is extremely important to explore other reasons behind certain pay differences and not fall victim to the ideology behind gender inequality.

In the following case examined, a female lecture of a highly established college has made a claim against her male colleague that he has been overpaid a total figure of over €140,000 since 2009, her claim is based on gender alone.

This claim of gender pay inequality in the college was brought forward to the Workplace Relation Commission (WRC) for investigation. Shortly after the adjudicator (AO) launched their examination it soon revealed that the reasoning behind the pay difference was not based on the accusation of gender inequality. The AO found a variety of reasons, the main deciding factor being the length of service.

The details of the current pay are as follows. The female lecturer has been employed since 2006, first as an assistant lecturer and then since 2008 as a full-time lecturer receiving the current salary of €79,491 whilst her male colleague is on a salary of €86,400. She also states that she “had” to undertake a PhD which she completed in 2014 and was only reimbursed 50% by the college, while her male colleague voluntarily started the PhD and was reimbursed by 100%.

While at an initial glance and on a prima facie basis it may seem that there are potential grounds for gender pay inequality, however, this case displays how a simple investigation can often prove otherwise.

Prima facie is a term that means “based on the first impression; accepted as correct until proved otherwise”, the college and the WRC now prove otherwise. Providing the following details the college provide basic facts on how the male lecturer’s salary is clearly based on his length of service in the college alone, not his gender.

The male lecturer began his career in 1995 as an associate faculty which grants him over 14 years more experience than the female complainant. Not only based on the length of service but the male lecturer work exceeds the normal 35 hours per week and the norm of 12 hours lecturing per week. The college also made a valid point that out of the four top paid staff in the college three of them are females, removing gender pay discrimination.

The college then challenged the female complainant, disputing the fact that the comparator must be a real individual and not just a member of the opposite sex. However, the court has denied this accusation. The court later revealed the four areas that rationalised the differences in pay were tenure, qualification, experience and publications record. The college also noted that since they have formed with SIPTU in 2015 the female received an increase of €11,324 since 2009 whilst the male’s salary had increased by €1,282 in the same timeline.

The AO concluded the case that the female lecturer “failed to establish a prime facie case of direct discrimination on grounds of gender in relation to equal pay. Nor did she establish a case of indirect discrimination.” Ultimately failing to provide substantial grounds of gender pay inequality the WRC rejected the lecturers claim. This case can be used in the future to highlight the key area’s employees should analyze and to think rationally before making any gender pay gap claim.

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

Voltedge Management

 

Talent and Recruitment

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

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.

 

IdentiGEN

Data Scientist

IMCA

Chief Executive

Irema Ireland

Marketing Manager

PCO Manufacturing

Regulatory Affairs Specialist

Sales Manager – Pharmaceutical

ThinScale

Product Marketing Manager

 

Other

Medical Sales Engineer

Senior Buyer – Pharmaceuticals

Insubordinate Worker “Shown Latitude”, Dismissal Upheld

Friday, March 15th, 2019

A former general operative at a beef processor has failed in his unfair dismissal claim, after he was fired for “serious acts of insubordination”, including ignoring an instruction from a manager to return to work after he left the production line without permission.

This case outlines the numerous issues reasonable employers face today. Implementing correct procedures enables the reasonable employer to correctly dismiss incompetent workers. Following established procedures and utilising mandatory guidelines gives both sides the right to natural justice. When dealing with an issue of an insubordinate worker –  what should a  reasonable employer do, and how they should they do it while still maintaining best practice.

An insubordinate worker is a worker who defies authority by refusing to obey orders and this may be classified as an act of gross misconduct. If found of gross misconduct the employee should be immediately suspended depending an investigation on a prima facie basis. The key point of view from the courts is not to see if it is classified as gross misconduct but to determine whether it was substantial grounds to dismiss and to measure what a reasonable employer would do in the same position.

The complainant in this case worked for the company for a total of 13 years broken service. His most recent period from 2009 to 17th November 2016 when the employee alleged received his second complaint of gross misconduct. The first on the 6th of October for a similar case. Based on November’s complaint, it is alleged that he displayed acts of insubordination towards management and disappearing from work which ultimately led to his dismissal. The employer stated during the courts proceedings that they engaged in a process in line with best practice and delivered the complainants right to natural justice.

The complainant argues this point however, on a procedural error that he had never received witness statements, when a letter stated that he had. The complainant argues the point that he simply went to the toilet while no manager was around, informing a colleague to cover for him which led to this dismissal case.

The employer stressed his implementation of best practice offering the respondent his right to representation during the investigatory meetings and  even providing an individual interpreter to aid the employee. However, he attended with no representative. The complainant’s solicitor requested a postponing of the meeting to discuss the case, which the employer granted.

During this time, the complainant claimed that the employer did not use fair procedural grounds as he failed to take any submissions from other witnesses and failed to execute a cross examination. In the complainant’s view. the dismissal was totally disproportionate, and the employer failed to interview the appropriate people and that the process was “procedurally flawed.”

The adjudication officer (AO) at the time referenced the following cases in applying the test of reasonableness. These being “Leyland UK Ltd v Swift” in which the critical element being where one employer may be reasonable, another might be different. Along with “Hennessy v Read & Write Shop LTD”, they pointed out that in holding an investigatory meeting alone was an act made by a reasonable employer.

Furthermore, the AO concluded that because the complainant left the grounds without any permission from staff, it was sufficient grounds to justify the dismissal. He also found that the employer had an established grievance and disciplinary procedure, as the complainant was given enough notice and was made aware of disciplinary meetings and of the investigation itself.

It was the complainant’s own decision not to bring a representative. It also found based on the witnesses reports that the complainant had received their statements. While not perfect, the AO concluded that the dismissal was of a sufficiently high standard and granted the case in favor of the employer thus dismissing the employee on grounds of a fair dismissal.

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

Voltedge Management

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is important that businesses understand the potential impact Brexit could have on their business. Here is a great checklist made by Bank of Ireland, in order to assess how different areas could be impacted:

Supply Chain

  • How could your supply chain be impacted?
  • How could your supplier’ supplier be affected? Talk to your suppliers to see how they may be impacted and what steps they are taking to address this.

Route to Market

Some businesses’ route to market will be relatively straight forward, for example where they supply directly to a retailer or the end consumer. They can then assess their potential impact of Brexit on how they get their goods to market.

Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers

In the event of tariffs being applied on exports to the UK, a business exporting to the UK should understand what the potential tariff would be. This varies significantly across different products.

Cashflow

A business should consider what impact the above may have on their cashflow.

Currency Risk Exposure

If your business is importing goods from, or exporting goods to any non-Euro based country or market and you do not have a hedging strategy in place then you are taking a gamble with your bottom line.

Efficiencies

  • What process improvement opportunities could you implement now to reduce the impact / costs caused by disruption or delays in supply chain or route to market or from the potential imposition of tariffs?
  • What new market opportunities exist to reduce your reliance on the UK market, and enter those markets in a more cost competitive position?

Market Diversification and Opportunities

While Brexit will present challenges for many businesses, there will also be opportunities for some companies. Consider what opportunities may be there for your own business.

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

Voltedge Management is Celebrating the 8th Anniversary

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Voltedge was created in March 2011 by Fredericka Sheppard and Joyce Rigby-Jones to develop an innovative HR consultancy, focused on providing customised and innovative solutions and support to clients across all sectors. Voltedge has grown rapidly and has a large client base across the private sector, and also works into the public sector.

Our client base extends from very small (2+ employees) to much larger businesses, and we frequently provide project support into the HR departments and senior management/leadership teams of large organisations including re-organisation and people strategy projects.

Voltedge Management has reached a milestone this March, celebrating 8 years of business. We have come a long way since the business was started in 2011 and are very excited about our future. 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.

“Our experience and knowledge positions us very well to listen and understand what our clients are saying, what their needs are and offer tangible solutions that make a real difference and add real value.”

Changes to Critical Skills Employment Permit (Stamp 3) Holders

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

It was announced on the 6th March that the spouses and partners of Critical Skills Employment Permit (Stamp 3) holders will no longer have to apply for an independent work permit to access the Irish labour market.

Until now they could only apply for a work permit on receipt of a job offer and follow a lengthy and cumbersome process to have it approved and be eligible to work.  This is no longer the case and on entry into Ireland spouses and partners will be entitled to the same conditions as a Stamp 1 holder enabling them to take up work immediately.

 What does this mean to employers in Ireland?

Specifically in the tech sector where there are significant skills gaps and shortages employers are forced to source talent from outside of the country and the EEA.  The Critical Skills Employment Permit was designed to attract highly skilled workers to fill these vacancies and enable Irish companies to grow and expand.

The permit holder has the option to apply for immediate family reunification which makes it very attractive. Although spouses and partners have always been able to access the labour market the administration and process involved made it difficult and often prohibitive.  Therefore, these changes will now enhance the attraction and benefits of coming to Ireland on a Critical Skills.

Employment Permit for the holder and their co-dependants.  It will also provide an immediate boost to the labour market here as they will be available to work themselves immediately should they wish to.

In such a competitive talent market, Ireland needs to be seen as a great place to live, work and invest in and making changes like this is critical to ensuring our economic growth and prosperity.

If you, as an employer, are struggling with hiring highly skilled people and think your roles might be eligible for permit holders, visit the following government website for all the criteria and details.

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

Voltedge Management

Returning to Work After Cancer

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Clients are increasingly seeking our guidance on how to respond to a situation where a staff member has been diagnosed with cancer as well as how best to support them in  successfully returning to the workplace following treatment.

Incidences of cancer are on the rise with reportedly one person receiving a cancer diagnosis every 3 minutes in Ireland*. With increases in early detection and the improvement of cancer treatments, there is now a higher prevalence of cancer survivors returning to the workplace.

It can be a challenge for an employer to know exactly how to sensitively and supportively deal with a situation where an employee has received news of their diagnosis, is undergoing treatment or has indicated their readiness to return to work.

Further, employers understandably want to get it right when it comes to employment related factors, including for example: time off, what supports to provide including how to keep in contact and concerns about a staff member’s ability to carry out their full role following their return to work.

In our experience, employers want to be compassionate and understanding in such situations and are keen to support an employee coming back to work, aiming for a warm welcome back and a smooth supportive return as they settle back. It’s important to remember, that every case of cancer is different, every individual employee is different, and no two situations are the same.

This article aims to be an initial resource for employers. It highlights some of the main themes employers need to be aware of and consider when:

  1. Responding to a staff member’s cancer diagnosis,
  2. Supporting a staff member during their time undergoing treatment, and
  3. Planning supportively for their return to work.

As an employer, when responding to a staff member’s cancer diagnosis, it’s your role to:

  • Respond compassionately and approach all conversations with the utmost sensitivity and privacy.
  • Be clear and reassuring about their job security. You’re obliged to guarantee job security in situations where a staff member is diagnosed with cancer.
  • Ensure you’ve informed the staff member from the start what financial company supports are in place for them during their absence, e.g. sick pay and how long it lasts, information and details on any corporate health insurance schemes, income continuance schemes or other relevant financial supports or schemes in place.
  • Ensure the staff member is aware of ongoing medical certification requirements to avoid any misunderstandings along the way.
  • Be helpful in letting them know of other external financial supports they may be entitled to including social welfare illness benefit and how that is treated in cases where there is company sick pay.

An employer’s support for a staff member during their time undergoing treatment can have many forms beyond the obvious financial supports:

  • Establish and maintain regular contact from the start with the aim of reassuring the staff member about their employment and giving them an opportunity to ask any work-related questions they may have. This can be by way of phone calls, email contact or a home visit.
  • Encourage them to keep in touch with colleagues and visit the office from time to time for a social visit or coffee.
  • Keep them up to date on company news, preferably by post, e.g. company newsletters or information on job announcements etc.
  • Remember to be mindful of the fact that the person will also need their space to recover and heal, so balance is key.

Plan supportively for the staff member’s return by jointly making a return to work plan.

  • When the staff member has indicated their fitness to come back to work, arrange to meet up, discuss their aspirations about their return to work and any concerns they may have.
  • Ask for a medical certificate from their care team or oncologist, which indicates their fitness to return to work as well as any recommendations for a successful return to work.
  • It can be good practice at this stage to arrange for an appointment with an occupational health practitioner, who will provide a detailed report and recommended return to work plan for the individual employee for their particular job and with medical recommendations for any reasonable accommodations that may need to be made, e.g. phased return, flexible working arrangements, role adaptations etc.
  • Be flexible and open and take it slowly. As every case of cancer is different, be careful not to make any assumptions about what accommodations or adjustments will or won’t be needed – Be guided by the medical recommendations and work together to ensuring the plan works both ways.
  • Remember to check in regularly with your staff member to jointly review how they are settling back in as regards the work, the workload, their schedule, their physical and mental wellbeing in the early days, and during the weeks and months that follow ensuring follow up medical reviews as required.

For detailed advice and guidance, please contact us at 01 525 2914 and a HR Consultant will be happy to assist you.

Employers can also find further information resources on this topic at:

www.workplacerelations.ie

www.citizensinformation.ie

www.mariekeating.ie

www.cancer.ie

*Statistics sourced from Cancer.ie and NCRI

 

Sarah Treacy MCIPD, HR Associate

 

Talent and Recruitment

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

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.

Flynn O’Driscoll

Corporate Associate/Senior Associate

Legal Administrative Assistant, Dublin

Novi

Onsite Technical Support Engineer

PCO Manufacturing

Sales Manager Pharmaceutical

Sales Account Manager

Sales Support Executive

 

Other

Office Manager

HR Brexit Update

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Get your Business HR Brexit Ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SFA has prepared a Brexit guide for small business. It contains analysis of Ireland’s Brexit exposure and insights into the opportunities and risks for the main sectors of the economy.

It provides details of the 10 main impact areas for Irish businesses:

  • Currency
  • Supply chain
  • Contracts
  • Finance and funding
  • Workforce
  • Technology
  • Regulation
  • Tax
  • Market
  • Operating structures.

Are you prepared for Brexit?

There are a number of preparations your business can make in advance of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. The Brexit SME Scorecard is a great starting point to help businesses to begin preparing a strategy and ready their teams in terms of planning and shining a spotlight on some of the key operational areas that may be exposed.

Your local Enterprise Office has a large number of resources and information available to support small business.

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

Top 5 Tips Vital to Good Staff Absence Management

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Managing employee absences can be problematic at times for employers. It is important, however, to manage absences reasonably and fairly. In order to assist employers, we have put together our top 5 tips on managing staff absence.

Whosonleave.com have outlined important management tips to help employers dealing with absenteeism – and we outline these below:

  • Clear attendance policy

Make sure that this is easy to understand, clear and every employee can access it/has a copy. It should outline all the company’s attendance requirements, expectations and check that there aren’t any loopholes – think about the issues you have had and work through the policy to see if the policy works for you

  • Training

Training is essential – both with new hires, to bring them trough policies, and with your current employees to remind them of your expectations – it’s also a good time for them to talk about concerns/issues and raise them directly

  • Documentation

Take notes! Managers should be noting any absence, conversations on return to work, calls being made to absentees etc. Documentation is vital to understand the issues, manage them and work with the employee(s), presenting details to them if needed.

  • Reward good attendance

We all know that it’s good to reward good behaviour instead of punishing for bad behaviour all the time. So, make sure that employees with good attendance/time records are acknowledged. This doesn’t need to be a regular reward, sometimes the best rewards are a manager’s comment saying thanks, or a voucher out of the blue.

  • Be consistent!

Managers need to apply policies consistently – any gaps will be picked up and abused! Ensure managers are trained and updated, take them through examples of how they need to manage absentees to ensure consistency, and talk about informal versus formal approaches – as these can often be major areas of inconsistency.

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

Your HR Questions Answered

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

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 can I fairly let an employee go during probation when they are clearly not working out?

A: There are a few steps you need to take before you notify an employee that their employment will be terminated fairly.

  • Firstly, clearly outline the issues you are having with the new employee. Is it performance, conduct, behaviour, timekeeping or something else that is proving a problem and is prompting you to question if they are a good fit.
  • Secondly, once you are clear that there is an issue, and you understand fully what it is – avoid making a long list of everything. You need to be fair, it needs to be reasonable, and you need to sit down and discuss it with the individual – so be realistic.
  • Ensure the employee is familiar with the probation management process – how you will engage with them during that period and how you will raise any issues or matters that need to be address.
  • Invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the issue – clearly set out what it is, when it happened, give a copy of the probation policy, grievance policy, disciplinary policy and maybe even the equality policy. This is not a disciplinary meeting so you don’t have to extend to them the opportunity to attend with a colleague or representation, at this stage it is an internal matter that is directly between the manager and the employee.
  • At the meeting discuss the issue at hand, what it is, the impact it is having on the business/team, what it is you want them to do about it – agree a corrective action or a PIP performance improvement plan. Give them very clear outlined guidelines of what it is you need them to do and the time frame and the standard that they need to achieve etc. It’s also important that you tell them the sanction of their performance or conduct or timekeeping etc improving, so they should be clear at the end of the meeting what it is you need them to do, by when, the quality and what next steps will be if that is not achieved. You may need to consider further training, on the job coaching,  or some other kind of intervention that is reasonable in assisting the new employee reach the required standard at this early stage of their employment.
  • If the problem continues then you may need to call them to a disciplinary meeting, or you may need to hold an investigation etc. If you are inviting them to a disciplinary meeting, ensure you follow good practice and your company policy – don’t skip stages that you have in your policy – due process is really important. Document everything, make sure the employee knows exactly what it is you will be speaking to them, allow them the opportunity to bring a colleague or a representative to the meeting, give them every opportunity to express their views, to account for themselves, etc. Don’t pass judgement until you have allowed them the opportunity to speak and put forward their side. You may need to get someone neutral to conduct an investigation if it’s not possible to assess the accuracy or exact circumstances that have taken place – remember disciplinary action or dismissal is a serious matter and it should not be taken lightly.
  • Once you know the outcome of the disciplinary meeting or the investigation, decide on the appropriate course of action that is proportionate to the incident. It could be that you decide to give them a new project to work on from start to finish, or you clarify the expected timekeeping, or you outline appropriate conduct etc. Give the individual an reasonable time to prove themselves and to correct the matter.
  • If it continues, then use your policy to manage it – but don’t rush to dismiss, as it might be considered unfair. Follow you policy, give them a chance to appeal your decision if necessary and make sure you have someone in an objective position there to hear the appeal and reach an appropriate decision.

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

The Lunch “Break” – Tips for Employers

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

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”!

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! 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

Time Off During Adverse Weather

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Now that the weather is expected to get colder in the coming weeks there is a risk that we might find Met Eireann forecasting snow or even stormy conditions. It is a good time to think about how your organisation is going to manage adverse weather this winter and put in place the necessary policies, communicate them to staff and make plans for working schedules etc.

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

A: 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 lave 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?

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

A: 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. Just email us on info@voltedge.ie or call Ingrid on 01 5252914.

Laura Banfield, HR Consultant

#MeToo – Where to Now?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

After the major news about cases following #MeToo in the entertainment world globally, has this affected companies in UK and Ireland? A recent survey carried out by CIPD UK (197 readers polled from CIPD’s magazine People Management) would imply that there is a definite up-turn in cases as follows:

  • 17% of HR professionals say they have seen an increase in complaints from employees over the last 6 months (2nd half 2018)
  • 20% have fired or disciplined someone for harassment in the last 6 months
  • 18% have changed policies relating to harassment in the last 6 months
  • 16% have introduced new channels or resources for reporting harassment in the last six months; a further 9% plan to in the next 6 months

So what can we do as employers to minimise any risk of cases arising?

  • Review your dignity at work policies including Bullying and Harassment, Grievance and Disciplinary and make sure that they are fit for purpose, fit your business and are appropriate
  • Do a Dignity at Work training session focusing on your team leaders/managers to ensure that they know how to deal with informal issues early on, and then how to deal with more significant complaints or issues that may arise
  • Do a Dignity at Work training session with all other staff – you could include it with other training such as Wellness at Work and/or Health and Safety so you don’t make it such a major issue
  • If you are a medium size business, considering training a capable employee to be a go-to person for any potential bullying and harassment. They can give advice and potentially reduce any development of issues
  • Undertake an employee pulse survey
  • Drive inclusion and diversity as a key company value

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

Giving Effective Feedback to Employees

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

One of the most important jobs a people manager has is to give effective feedback to their employees to enhance productivity and motivation. In this article we will give you tips to help bring your employee feedback to the next level.

1) Focus on the behaviour – NOT the person:
Can you remember a parent, friend or colleague saying, ‘You are always late’ or ‘you are hopeless at that’? Your immediate reaction is to say – ‘I’m NOT always late – yes I may be late occasionally but that’s unfair!’

Similarly, when dealing with employees you need to be precise and exact – don’t generalise!
So – instead of saying ‘you are always late for meetings’ – say ‘I notice that you arrived late into our meeting today – and also our previous operations meeting last week – I’m concerned that you will miss key details and/or the team miss out on information from you – can you make sure that you get there on time going forward- it’s important, let me know if there is any reason why you cant get there on time’.

2) Feedback is your opinion and perception:
Don’t use the term ‘We think/we feel’ – this is YOUR feedback and should be only yours. For example: You might say ‘The senior management team feel that you are not pulling your weight and you need to up your performance’. This may not be true, and/or fair, the feedback should be from the employee’s direct manager only.

Only use ‘I’ and give your feedback – not someone else’s.

3) The Feedback Sandwich

You will know of the concept – Say something nice – then the bad news – and then something nice again – the sandwich approach!

This sounds like it makes sense but be careful that the important constructive feedback doesn’t get lost between the nice words – employees like to hear the good stuff and may selectively ignore the bad unless you are very clear – so don’t be a coward- you will be doing the employee a favour if they need feedback on something important even if it isn’t easy to give.

4) Be positive too!
Even though we are saying that the feedback sandwich is not a good method, don’t forget to give the positive feedback too. Recognition is very important – however do remember to recognise people immediately – don’t just wait for a performance review session.

Employees who only ever receive positive feedback may not grow and develop. Always aim for stretch targets and praise to keep them striving for better results.

5) Follow up
Giving effective feedback loses huge benefits if you don’t follow up. Has the employee taken onboard your feedbvack and made changes? Are they being successful, or do you need to help them more? Have check in dates/times planned to ensure you are following through.

Reference: Nora St-Aubin

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

12 Months of Challenges for a Better 2019

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

January, the longest month of the year, or so it seems, is coming to a close. At last many of us will be saying and rejoicing in the fact that we have managed to survive it and have maybe even stuck to one or two of our “resolutions”.  It’s so easy in December when indulging in all things considered naughty and extravagant to make elaborate plans to change, give up, do more, be better…  and then January comes and the long list looks more like an endurance test and less like a happy new lifestyle.

Don’t despair

Our downfall is not the list or what it contains, as let’s face it there usually is a valid reason why we verbalise the changes we want to make. The problem is there are often too many to tackle all at the same time.  What rule book says we have to span our resolutions over the entire year or says we have to make all the changes at the same time? It’s only January and there are 11 more months in the year which offers plenty of time to work our way through the list.

Break it down

The 12 months challenges rather than the 12-month challenge is where every month we take something from our list to address that month. And if you don’t have a list, start one.  It can be something simple like committing to adding two additional servings of vegetables to your daily diet or drinking an extra litre of water a day to doing a specific task. Or if it’s a bigger challenge like giving up smoking set yourself the goal of getting through the month first.  At the end of the month assess the impact of the change or action. Has it been beneficial, has it been a positive experience with a positive outcome – if the answers are yes you will probably be happy to keep going and if not that’s ok too it might not have been the right change to make for you at this time.

Habits are formed over time, some quicker than others however at the end of each month it will become more routine and less effort.  Introducing one thing every month will allow you to explore lots of different activities and ways of life over the year easing the pressure of bombarding your mind and body at all once and reducing the chances of success.

Here are some examples of some easy challenges for the next 12 months you might like to take up:

January
Get out walking for 30 minutes a day – the fresh air and exercise will energise you and blow away any blues, boost your metabolism and give you a healthy glow.

February
Add some healthy items to your diet – extra vegetables to your meals and munch on fruit instead of biscuits.

March
Spring is in the air so challenge yourself to decluttering at home and the workplace.  Take a room or area at a time. You’ll feel great afterwards!

April
Get out of your comfort zone and join a class, learn a new skill, do something you’ve always wanted to.

May
Get ready for summer and clear out your wardrobe.  Don’t hang onto items you know you are really never going to wear again or that simply do not fit anymore.

June
Make the most of the long evenings, get out for walks, runs, meet up with friends for a hike and boost your vitamin D levels.

July
Read a book – any book! If you’re on holiday even better and read two.

August
Think of a behaviour you would like to change or adopt and look at ways to achieve this and then practice, practice, practice.

September
Do a personal financial audit, where can you save, spend less and plan for the future.

October
Heading into wintertime and dark evenings is the perfect time to join an evening class or do some online learning.

November
Cut back on treats – chocolate, cakes, alcohol – December is usually a busy month!

December
It’s good to keep up as many of the positive habits you’ve formed over the year but it’s also a time to let loose and enjoy some over-indulgences too.  And celebrate your achievements!

When tackling any big changes, which impact us emotionally and physically looking after our wellbeing is so important.  Take it a month at time and reward your successes and manage any blips – and most importantly try not to give up or give in!

Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager

Voltedge News

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

We are delighted to be featured in this month’s Business Achievers – the business portal and networking hub designed to connect business owners and entrepreneurs to industry thought leaders, generate new business opportunities and deliver solid positive and supportive connections.

Year on year, Voltedge has grown organically, with a team of 28 consultants and associates currently, we have expanded our services so that our business model can ensure our clients receive the best possible support and advice with their people management needs. We now have experts right across the broad range of Human Resources Management capabilities, and can provide expert intervention and support at each of stage of the life cycle of the employee.

Building a strong partnership with our clients is one of our core objectives in Voltedge. We will always give advice based on the needs of the business, and where difficult situations arise, we aim to provide options that can result in real solutions. We can provide as much hand-holding as is needed and strive to enable our client be strong and informed people managers, no matter what size their organisation is, what level of experience they have or what profile of staff they employ.

Read the full interview with Co-Managing Director Fredericka Sheppard about Voltedge’s business journey to date.

Voltedge Management

The New Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 – Q&A

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

 

In what has been described as one of the most significant pieces of employment law in a generation – The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill that is scheduled to come into force on 4th March 2019 is one to look out for. The new legislation aims to strengthen the regulation of precarious and casual Employment.

Speaking to the importance of the Bill, Minister Doherty said:

“I am delighted to reach this stage for one of the most significant changes to working conditions in a generation and, crucially, to have introduced legislation that will profoundly improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours. In a changing world, this reform ensures that the legal protections for all workers will match the conditions experienced by a modern workforce and make a real difference in the lives of thousands of workers.”

The main provisions of the bill are:

  • Under the legislation, zero hours contracts will be banned except in situations of “genuine casual employment” (work done in emergency situations or short-term relief work to cover routine absences for the Employer). This is likely to have a big impact for industries where casual or a-typical contracts are more common, like tourism, retail, healthcare, fast food and hospitality in particular.
  • Employers must give employees basic terms of employment with 5 core terms of employment within 5 days of employment commencing. The Bill introduces criminal liability for failure to provide the written statement of core terms within one month of employment commencing.
  • Banded Hours provisions: Consider requests from employees to be put in a ‘band of hours’ that reflects the actual hours worked as opposed to the contracted hours. This will impact any employer who employs part-time or variable hours employees. There will be a new right for employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours they habitually work whereby they will be entitled to be placed in a band of hours that better reflects the hours they have worked over a 12-month reference period;
  • A new minimum payment for employees called into work but sent home again without work. This is a new minimum payment to be paid to employees who are not required to work on a certain week or who work less than 25% of their weekly contractual hours in a particular week
  • Strong anti-penalisation provisions: The Bill provides strong anti-penalisation provisions for employees who invoke their rights under this legislation.

Who will the new legislation impact?  It will impact all Employers because one of the provisions is a requirement to issue core terms of employment within FIVE days of an employee starting work. If you normally issue contracts after commencement of employment, ensure that from next March you do so within 5 days of commencement of the employee’s employment. Note: This new obligation is in addition to Section 3 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts 1994 which requires an employer to provide a written statement to an employee outlining 15 core terms of employment within two months of commencing employment.

The five core terms of employment are as follows:

  1. Full name of the Employer and Employee
  2. Address or principal place of business of the Employer within the State
  3. Fixed – Term/ specified purpose contracts- expected duration /expiry date
  4. Rate or method of calculation of employee’s remuneration and pay reference period for purpose of National Minimum Wage Act 2000
  5. Number of hours which the employer reasonably expects the employee to work (a) per normal working day and (b) per normal working week

Q&A

Q: Do I have to re-issue contracts of employment to existing staff?

A: No, it is not necessary to re-issue contracts of employment for existing staff but be advised that those who do not have written statements of employment which conform to the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 as amended may request a statement of terms of employment and that statement will need to be compliant with the new legislation.

Q: Are “as and when required” contracts still permitted?

A: So-called “as and when required” arrangements (where employees may refuse without consequence hours of work offered by the employer) will still be a permitted form of employment relationship once the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) legislation comes into effect.

Q: What penalties am I likely to face if I am in breach of the legislation?

A: The Bill will also bring strong penalties for employers who do not comply with its provisions. These include:

  • Awards to employees who are not issued with the core employment terms in writing within 5 days of starting employment
  • Fines of up to €5,000 
  • Anti-penalisation awards of up to two years’ salary
  • Fixed penalty notices
  • Imprisonment of up to 12 months
  • Potential for personal liability for senior employees and directors where they have consented or connived in non-compliance in respect of certain offences

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

Voltedge 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