Posts Tagged ‘managing people’

Are There Signs of Improvement for Employee Wellbeing and Engagement?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022

The pandemic has had an extraordinarily impact on employee wellbeing with daily stress and daily worries presenting themselves in so many diverse ways.

Employee wellbeing has always been a core focus for HR, but it has become vividly important during the pandemic. Fostering employee wellbeing can help prevent stress and create positive working environments where individuals and organisations can thrive.

There are many impactful ways managers can support employee wellbeing and they don’t all need big budgets.

 

  1. Involve employees in dialogue and decision-making

When employees feel involved and well informed about what’s happening in the organisation, it increases motivation and helps individuals understand how their role fits into the bigger picture.

 

  1. Build social cohesion and support

Employers and managers should look for ways to build social cohesion and support – for example through team building and good leadership.

If you want to take positive actions to make the workplace a mutually supportive environment where good work relationships thrive:

  • promote positive behaviours to avoid conflict and ensure fairness
  • ensure policies on bullying and harassment are in place
  • encourage exercise and regular social events to boost staff health, team work and mental wellbeing

 

  1. A culture of openness

Speak regularly with team members to check how they’re doing and to reflect on what might be causing them stress. Don’t be afraid to show your human side and openness to speak about personal mental health and wellbeing.

 

  1. Pay attention to work-life balance

Working long hours can have a major influence on employees’ wellbeing, and in a digital age there is a real risk individuals feel they have to always be connected. Sustained pressure and a poor work-life balance can quickly lead to stress and burnout, reduced productivity, creativity and morale.

Employers must keep this in check to protect their employees’ mental health. Empower your employees and give them autonomy so that they control their work methods and schedule. Not only to encourage a culture of taking time out when you need it and disconnecting when their work is done, but nurture that practice also and make it an acceptable way of working.

 

  1. Better support for people working from home

Just under three-quarters of organisations (72%) are providing new or better support for people working from home (CIPD Ireland).

Employers must encourage more responsible use of digital technologies and acknowledge that regular movement breaks and time away from screens are essential for good health and wellbeing.

 

  1. Remind employees to take care of themselves

To grow your wellbeing though, you need to invest in yourself, which is something that many individuals do not feel they have time, space or perhaps permission to do.

Employers need to remind their employees that there are many different things that they can do to improve their wellbeing, as presented below.

 

Smart employers know that organisations perform better when staff are healthy, motivated and focused. By supporting employee wellbeing, they reap the benefits through enhanced productivity, profitability, morale, loyalty, commitment and innovation.

For more on this topic read our article Wellbeing From the Top Down. You can also join several events and fundraisers, such as Darkness Into Light from Pieta House, as they are great opportunities for companies to come together and raise awareness of various mental health issues.

What Are the Recent Changes to Irish Immigration Regarding Ukrainian Nationals?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

In response to the war in the Ukraine the Irish government has reacted quickly to assist in the crisis enabling people to enter the country under new guidelines.  For all the details and up to date information visit https://www.corporatecare.ie/irish-immigration-update-2/

Voltedge supports these changes and #standswithukraine.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us on info@voltedge.ie or call our office on 01 5252914.

The “Great Resignation” – What You Can Do For Your Business

Tuesday, February 15th, 2022

It has never been more challenging to retain talent, with many studies indicating that up to one in five employees thinking about leaving their current role. This means as employers, it will be necessary to reimagine their employee experience in order to keep the people they need engaged and motivated.

The search for, and retention of, talent is of course challenging when large proportions of employees are working in a hybrid environment, and managers find it harder to identify and recognise signs of dissatisfaction with employees, or where they are trying to assess the skills and cultural fit of candidates in a virtual environment. The process and manner in which companies manage the candidate and employee experience from initial engagement with a job opportunity, through the selection process and on into the probation period and beyond, needs to be reassessed to ensure it.

There are three key elements to consider when developing a retention strategy for your business.

1. Understand what your staff data is telling you. If you are unsure about what data to gather form staff or what data to focus on, consider some of these elements:

  • Exit interview information; conduct an exit interview with all employees when they are leaving, even if it is a placement student, a contractor or permanent member of the team. Gain some insights as to why they say they are leaving and their overall view of the culture, the opportunity, the team around them, would they recommend the company to others and generally try to get feedback on how they viewed their experience of working in your company.
  • Your performance management process; review your process to see if it is delivering for you and if you can identify any drop in productivity or performance standards for employees who resign and assess how far in advance you can see a pattern develop. This can be a key indicator that all is not well in the relationship.
  • Staff surveys; Conduct staff surveys or short pulse surveys to gain the views of how staff feel about working in the company, what they are saying about the opportunity and the culture, and generally if they see a future career path for themselves. This gives you an insight into whether they are reluctant stayers or enthusiastic stayers.
  • Training and development; Consider if there is an ambition and motivation for personal development, skills development and overall an interest in attending training opportunities provided by the company.

2. Look at your management practices and capabilities. During this time of ongoing change, it is critical to support the key stakeholders in the employment relationship. This means that the relationship between a manager and employee is often the catalyst for individuals to consider a change or explore alternative opportunities outside the organisation. Management development is an ongoing journey and businesses should ensure there is annual investment in this area, particularly during a global crisis. Competencies and capabilities in these areas are critical such as:

  • Regular, open and encouraging communications on a one to one basis as well as in teams.
  • Investment in personal relationships. Getting to know and understand the individuals on the team and the passions and interests they have about the job, life their community etc.
  • Capability to have meaningful coaching practices in place such as effective mentoring programmes, individual coaching for development, career progression models that are realistic.

3. Review the overall engagement of your staff. It is vital that you proactively empower, engage and grow your employees so that they stay for the experience and opportunity you can offer rather than staying because there is nowhere else to go or they are unsuccessful in getting another job offer. All the studies show that managers are among the greatest influencers of employee engagement, this is a catalyst for success and sustainability that cannot be ignored.

Engagement is the psychological and emotional connection employees feel toward the work they do, their teams and their oganisation. Engaged employees have a direct impact on customer retention, on driving efficiencies, and on embracing change. Engaged employees tend to live and support the company’s values on a day to day basis and are excellent ambassadors for the company.

Therefore it is important that you have initiatives in place that will promote the engagement of staff and reward the right behaviours so that you are fostering an environment of progression and trust.

This era of the great resignation is closely related to the engagement of staff and businesses globally are reassessing the relationship they have with their employees. Building structures and practices that will create an environment of recognition, respect and personal growth will result in higher levels of engagement, and when an employee feels engaged with their employer, they are less likely to consider changing jobs.

Lets make this the era of the great reset and re-alignment, and not the era of the great resignation.

Fredericka Sheppard, Voltedge Co-Managing Director (Joint)

The Irish Professional Mediators’ Organisation (IPMO) Launches in Ireland

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Irish Professional Mediators’ Organisation (IPMO) – an amazing and diverse board of experienced mediators and industry experts passionately committed to the development of mediation as a profession in Ireland – launched last week.

IPMO are already working with their members to bring mediation front and centre as the best dispute resolution option.

Voltedge Co-Managing Director (Joint) Fredericka Sheppard was appointed to the board to focus on the area of workplace mediation.

The other members of the board of IPMO are Dr. Roisin O’Shea BL, Marie Casey, Ercus Stewart SC, Anastasia Ward, Joseph Ateb, Penelope McRedmond, Mary Connors Aldridge, Shane Dempsey and Gareth Leech.

You can read the official press release here.

Voltedge Co-Managing Director (Joint) Fredericka Sheppard talks to RTE News about Returning to Work

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

RTE News had a great overview of the return to work after the lifting of restrictions, including advice from Voltedge Co-Managing (Joint) Director Fredericka Sheppard.

Employers and employees face a unique set of challenges to overcome in the weeks and months ahead.

“Companies need to be authentic and true to their values. Talk to your staff – they are the most valuable asset that you have. The talent market out there is really challenging right now so you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a good working relationship with your people.” Fredericka Sheppard

Most employers will be implementing a phased and controlled return to work for all employees, taking into account risk, personal circumstances and business requirements.

You can watch the replay here.

What is discrimination in the workplace and what can we do to prevent it?

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Employment equality is essential in every workplace.

Failing to treat your employees fairly can lead to serious consequences, such as resignations or even costly claims in the Workplace Relations Commission.

Additionally – an open, harmonious workplace that values equality and diversity will ensure a much happier and productive work environment.

What is discrimination in the workplace?

Discrimination in the workplace is where one person is treated less favourabley than another person.. Employment equality legislation sets out nine grounds for discrimination in Ireland.

  • Gender
  • Civil status.
  • Family status.
  • Sexual orientation.
  • Religious beliefs.
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Membership of the Traveller community.

The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 is the primary anti-discrimination act in Ireland. This act prohibits discrimination under the above nine specific grounds.

Under employment equality legislation, your business must adhere to the specific anti-discrimination provisions set out in the statute. This means that not all forms of discrimination are covered under the employment equality acts.

Part-time and fixed-term employees also have legal protections from discrimination under the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 and the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act 2003, respectively.

Types of discrimination

There are different types of discrimination and some types of discrimination are harder to identify than others. There are several types that may happen, sometimes unintentionally.

Direct discrimination tends to be easier to identify as it will involve a clear case of different treatment.

Direct: When an individual receives blatant different treatment based on any of the nine grounds.

Indirect discrimination occurs when a policy that appears to treat all employees equally in fact excludes certain people from accessing employment or enjoying employment rights that others enjoy.

Indirect: This is a practice or policy that accidentally treats an individual less favourably.

So familiarising yourself with these to ensure you have policies in place that celebrate diversity and encourage fairness between colleagues will ensure that you are not at risk of discrimination.

If  discrimination occurs, it can result in a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission — legal costs, management time and a negative reputation for your business are the potential risks and costs that you may incur.

There is also positive discrimination where a business shows favourable treatment towards a minority group within one of the nine grounds. Positive discrimination generally consists of employers taking steps that promote equality for all their employees. Employers have no legal obligation to implement positive anti-discrimination measures.

How to Prevent Workplace Discrimination?

Here are a few tips we suggest to prevent workplace discrimination:

  1. Develop a written policy that clearly defines the company policies and procedures.

Creating a clearly written policy is the first step toward preventing discrimination at work. This is just one of the reasons it is important to develop an employee handbook. Every handbook should include a policy on discrimination that every employee receives and signs an acknowledgment of receipt. Your policy should cover a broad range of potential discriminatory acts and include a protocol that outlines how discrimination complaints are submitted, handled, and resolved.

  1. Establish a consistent process for resolving discrimination issues.

Resolving issues quickly and fairly is incredibly important—even if your business isn’t in legal jeopardy, a lingering workplace discrimination issue can lead to losing trust and credibility with your employees. Consistency in how you address and resolve issues shows that you expect everyone to be treated fairly and by the same standards regarding discrimination. While there is no single “right” procedure for workplace discrimination, it is important to establish a process that fits your organisation’s size, structure, and resources.

  1. Continually educate employees on their role in preventing discrimination.

For most businesses, addressing the issue in the employee handbook and onboarding process isn’t enough. It is important to ensure that employees are aware of your policies and procedures and know how to report allegations. It is also recommended that you conduct a separate or enhanced program for supervisory or managerial employees, as they are often your first line of defence in preventing workplace discrimination.

Our Team at Voltedge Management is here to help, we frequently run Dignity at Work workshops with our clients – for management teams and teams of employees. We also advise on policies and practices to ensure employers are compliant with the law and that there are good processes internally to support an open, harmonious workplace that values equality and diversity. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on info@voltedge.ie or call our office on 01 5252914.

What employment changes are effective from January 2022?

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

COVID-19 Update

Because of the large numbers of COVID 19 cases, the Government advice on testing and how to manage the close contacts situation is evolving and our advice is to continue to check our updates and also the HSA news feeds.

As of today 5th January 2022, the rules on testing is as follows:

1.If you have COVID-19 symptoms:

  • are aged between 4 and 39 then you should self-isolate immediately. You should take regular antigen tests instead of booking a PCR test. If you have a positive antigen test – then you should book a PCR test to confirm that you are COVID-19 positive. If you have repeated negative antigen tests you should still self-isolate for 48 hours after your symptoms have gone
  • if you are over 40 years old you should seek a PCR test as soon as you display symptoms of COVID-19
  • children aged 3 or under should be booked for a PCR test as soon as they display symptoms of COVID-19
  • if you are a healthcare worker then you should still book a PCR test as soon as you show any symptoms of COVID-19

2. If you have an underlying condition which puts you at higher risk of severe disease (or if you have a clinical concern) then you should contact your GP and be advised as to what is appropriate.

Claiming Covid Benefit of €350.00 per week

You can apply for the Covid-19 enhanced Illness Benefit if you:

  • Are suspected of having Covid-19 and are told by a doctor or the HSE to self-isolate or restrict your movements or
  • Are diagnosed with Covid-19.

To qualify for the payment you must:

  • Be aged between 18 and 66.
  • Have a medical certificate called a ‘Certificate of incapacity for work’ from a doctor or have a text or letter notification from the HSE to support your application.
  • Be confined to your home or a medical facility.
  • Be employed in at least one of the 4 weeks before your medical certification and have a current contract of employment, if you are an employee.
  • Have worked immediately before your medical certification and will have reckonable income in the current contribution year, if you are self-employed.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

SSP is an employment right, which is due to come into effect over the next few months, where employees are entitled to claim 3 payable sick days.

Sick pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70% of an employee’s wage, subject to a daily threshold of €110. The daily earnings threshold of €110 is based on 2019 mean weekly earnings of €786.33 and equates to an annual salary of €40,889.16.

From 2023, the number of days will rise to 5 days and 7 days in 2024, and eventually by 2025, employers will be required to cover the cost of 10 sick days per year for all employees, either part time or full time, temporary or permanent, once the employee has completed at least 6 month’s service with the employer, their eligibility is established once they can provide a medical certificate.

Once entitlement to sick pay from their employer ends, employees who need to take more time off may qualify for illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection subject to PRSI contributions. In regard to the requirement of a doctor’s cert, employers can “choose” to trust their employees and not require one but that it is “reasonable” to include it in the Statutory requirement.

More information can be found here.

National minimum wage

The National minimum wage is increased from the 1st of January by 30 cent from €10.20 to €10.50 per hour.

More information can be found here.

What is ESG and how does it create value for your business?

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Your business, like every business, is deeply intertwined with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns. Voltedge Management can work with you to develop your own ESG strategy that will engage your employees and stakeholders. We can leverage our extensive experience  to create a programme that will be tailored and personalised to your business needs.

The E in ESG, environmental criteria, includes the energy your company takes in and the waste it discharges, the resources it needs, and the consequences for living beings as a result. Not least, E encompasses carbon emissions and climate change. Every company uses energy and resources; every company affects, and is affected by, the environment.

S, social criteria, addresses the relationships your company has and the reputation it fosters with people and institutions in the communities where you do business. S includes labour relations and diversity and inclusion. Every company operates within a broader, diverse society.

G, governance, is the internal system of practices, controls, and procedures your company adopts in order to govern itself, make effective decisions, comply with the law, and meet the needs of external stakeholders. Every company, which is itself a legal creation, requires governance.

Just as ESG is an inextricable part of how you do business, its individual elements are themselves intertwined. For example, social criteria overlaps with environmental criteria and governance when companies seek to comply with environmental laws and broader concerns about sustainability. Our focus is mostly on environmental and social criteria, but, as every leader knows, governance can never be hermetically separate. Indeed, excelling in governance calls for mastering not just the letter of laws but also their spirit—such as getting in front of violations before they occur, or ensuring transparency and dialogue with regulators instead of formalistically submitting a report and letting the results speak for themselves.

But even as the case for a strong ESG proposition becomes more compelling, an understanding of why these criteria link to value creation is less comprehensive.

How exactly does a strong ESG proposition make financial sense?

ESG links to cash flow in five important ways:

  • facilitating top-line growth,
  • reducing costs,
  • minimizing regulatory and legal interventions,
  • increasing employee productivity, and
  • optimizing investment and capital expenditures.

Each of these five levers should be part of a leader’s mental checklist when approaching ESG opportunities—and so should be an understanding of the “softer,” more personal dynamics needed for the levers to accomplish their heaviest lifting.

Paid Sick Leave – What you need to know as an employer

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

Workers to get at least 10 days paid sick leave phased in between January 2022 and 2025.

 

  • The government’s statutory sick pay scheme will be phased in over a four-year period, starting with three days per year in January 2022, rising to five days payable in 2023 and seven days payable in 2024.

 

  • Employers will eventually cover the cost of 10 sick days per year in 2025. The statutory days a minimum level of sick pay a company must provide but they have the freedom to offer more.

 

  • Sick pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70% of an employee’s wage, subject to a daily threshold of €110. The daily earnings threshold of €110 is based on 2019 mean weekly earnings of €786.33 and equates to an annual salary of €40,889.16.

 

  • An employee will have to obtain a medical certificate to avail of statutory sick pay paid by the employer and the entitlement is subject to the employee having worked for their employer for a minimum of six months.

 

  • Once entitlement to sick pay from their employer ends, employees who need to take more time off may qualify for illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection subject to PRSI contributions.

 

  • In regard to the requirement of a doctor’s cert, employers can “choose” to trust their employees and not require one but that it is “reasonable” to include it in the Statutory requirement.

 

  • The legislation will expressly state that this does not prevent employers offering better terms or stop unions negotiating for more through a collective agreement, including agreements already in place.

 

  • The new sick pay legislation follows similar measures already introduced to enhance employment rights including paternity benefit, parental leave benefit, enhanced maternity benefit, treatment benefit, and the extension of social insurance benefits to the self-employed.

Can I change my employees’ terms & conditions when they are working remotely?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021

Managing HR is challenging at the best of times! We are here to answer your queries and provide up to date HR advice on what is impacting businesses today.

Welcome to our weekly Q&A – if you have a question email us at info@voltedge.ie.

Can I change my employees’ terms & conditions when they are working remotely?

Permanent or temporary changes to terms and conditions of an employee’s contract can occur:

  • With the employee’s consent.
  • Without the employee’s consent, but in reliance upon a contractual provision allowing for changes of the contract, such as a variation or mobility clause.

Variations with Employee Consent

The provisions of an employment contract most affected by the impact of COVID-19 relate to remuneration, working hours and location of work.  Remuneration and working hours are fundamental terms of any employment contract (as is work location but to a lesser degree).  It is a general principle of contract law that the terms of a contract cannot be altered without the agreement of both parties, meaning that unilateral alterations of these provisions by an employer would generally amount to a breach of contract.

Employers must also consider the statutory protections afforded to employees.  Reducing an employee’s pay and without consent may also expose employers to claims under the Payment of Wages Act 1991 before the Workplace Relations Commission, or employees may resign and claim constructive dismissal.

To implement a valid reduction in pay or working hours, without the risk of legal challenge, employee consent or agreement should be sought.  In practical terms this should involve communicating with employees regarding the financial impact of COVID-19 on the business, outlining the rationale behind the proposed changes and consulting with the employees well in advance of the proposed changes to obtain the necessary agreement to reduce pay or working hours.

Once consent or agreement has been obtained, employers should record the agreed variation to the terms and conditions in writing.  This can be done by way of a side letter or addition to the contract which must be provided to the employee no later than one month after the change takes effect.

Variations Through Reliance on Terms of Contract:  Flexibility and Variation Clauses

Many employment contracts include a flexibility or variation clause that aims to allow employers to vary the terms and conditions of employment without any input from an employee.  While the existence of such a clause in an employment contract may be of some comfort if changes are proposed, it should not be relied upon in isolation to impose changes without consultation.  The Irish Courts, while accepting, that in certain circumstances alterations to terms and conditions are necessary for commercial effectiveness, have consistently held that such clauses must be exercised reasonably. It is generally accepted that such clauses are intended to permit minor non-material changes, which do not relate to core terms, such as updates to reflect changes in law or statute or a change in a work practice. Imposing pay cuts, even of a temporary nature, without consultation or consent, by reliance on such clauses is unlikely to be viewed by a Court as reasonable.

Variations: Mobility Clauses

With remote working, or some form of hybrid arrangement between home and workplace set to continue, many employers have already taken steps to reduce the capacity of their physical workplace.  Reliance on a mobility clause post lockdown to relocate employees to work from home permanently, or, to introduce a hybrid working arrangement where employees are opposed to such changes is not without risk of legal challenge.

In order to successfully rely on a mobility clause to introduce significant changes to a work location, employers should provide employees with as much notice as possible of the proposed change, provide detail on the commercial rationale for the proposed changes and afford the employees an opportunity to make representations in respect of the changes before introducing such measures.

Can Employees Who Refuse to Accept Changes to Terms and Conditions be Lawfully Dismissed?

Section 6.1 of the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977-2015 (the Acts) provides that dismissals are deemed to be unfair for the purpose of the Acts unless “having regard to all the circumstances, there are substantial grounds justifying the dismissal”. Can a dismissal for refusal to accept material changes to terms and conditions, which an employer claims are essential to the survival of a business, qualify as “substantial grounds” so as to make the dismissal lawful?

The commercial rationale and full effect of the proposed changes should be sufficiently and clearly explained to employees.  Given the importance of fair procedures in the Irish context, it is likely that the procedural fairness followed by an employer in seeking to introduce changes to fundamental terms of the contract will be critical.

Consideration should be given to the extent to which the burden of the proposed changes is being shared between management and employees below management level.  Ideally any changes should be across the board and not targeted at lower paid employees or middle management while senior management remain unaffected. Targeting specific groups of employees can also lead to potential discrimination claims and should be avoided.

Key Takeaway: Engage and Consult

To avoid potential claims, employers who propose to implement changes to employee terms and conditions, on a permanent or temporary basis, should consider putting in place arrangements to engage and consult with them in advance.  Where agreement cannot be reached, evidence of reasonableness, consultation and negotiation by the employer will be critical in successfully defending any legal challenges that may ensue.

 

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at info@voltedge.ie or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.