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Archive for the ‘Performance Management’ Category

Employment relations body Acas has published what is believed to be the first guide to social media use in the workplace.

According to Acas figures almost six out of ten employees now use social media at work. It estimates that misuse of the internet and social media by employees costs the UK economy up to £14billion a year and reports that many employers are now having to deal with issues such as time theft, cyber bullying, defamation, freedom of speech and the invasion of privacy.

The guide is aimed at helping businesses, staff and trade unions handle employment issues relating to use of the internet, blogs and social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.  Acas claims that it will save businesses ‘billions’.

In the guide Acas advises employers to:

•    draw up a policy on social networking;
•    treat ‘electronic behaviour’ in the same way as employers would treat ‘non-electronic behaviour’;
•    react reasonably to issues relating to social networking by asking ‘what is the likely impact on the organisation?’

The guide includes practical tips on managing the impact of social networking in the context of managing performance, recruitment, discipline and grievances, bullying, defamation, data protection and privacy. It also gives guidance as to how employers should go about developing a social networking policy and helpfully explains the legal issues relating to the use of social media from an employment perspective.

A full copy of the guide can be found here.

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This is the first UK libel case arising out of Tweeting.  Employers need to be careful when employees use social media at home or at work. Whether you require staff to promote your business through Twitter or make new contacts on Linkedin, it is vital to put a social media policy in place first as this UK libel action is likely to be the first of many as witnessed by the US in recent years.

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A new application called Skiver has been released by a Company in Gateshead for Android users and aims to help users pull a sickie and gives skiving employees the ability to select how many days off they are looking for and then providing a selection of plausible illnesses together with a list of symptoms to ensure that they the right info to fool their boss.

The app even provides a style email which can be sent directly to the user’s boss notifying them of the absence. Employers should conduct back to work interviews which are proven to reduce absence, probably because employees are not so good at telling porkies in person!

This article is based on a report by the Chartered Management Institute discussed by Morton Fraser in Lexology today.

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From 1st April 2011 changes in the law mean that, with the exception of the final 6 month transition phase, it will be unlawful to enforce a default retirement age on employees.

A client asked me how on earth they were going to manage as several members of their workforce were expected to do physically demanding jobs and he thought it was likely that they would buckle under the strain by the time they were seventy! Brian had heard about the ‘justification’ defence which he hoped would exempt his company from implementing the new law and would allow him to continue enforcing compulsory retirement at age 65. However, it will be very difficult to succeed with the justification defence so I suggest that you take a few moments to review your strategy in light of the full facts before deciding on your company’s retirement policy.

It’s completely understandable that Brian hoped to qualify for the exemption and you may well feel the same until you have chance to give it a bit more thought. According to the Office for National Statistics’ Interim Life tables 2007 – 2009, ‘life expectancy for those aged 65 in 2009 is projected to be 21.1 years for males and 23.8 years for females’

That is a long time if government funds will be the sole means of subsistence for pensioners. For that reason the Chancellor plans to keep increasing the state retirement age and easing the burden on the Treasury by removing the compulsory retirement age often imposed by employers.

With this weight of evidence Brian realised that working beyond 65 is a policy that is clearly here to stay so he may as well take the positives from the situation and get on with it. “What positives?” I hear you say!

Well, I’m not suggesting that you actively recruit employees from the over 65 age group but you can expect your current employees to work in their jobs until they can no longer fulfil their roles to the standard required. Instead of plotting to terminate their employment, why not take advantage of their abilities, experience and qualifications. The fact that these long serving employees know your products, services, customers and colleagues well and can contribute to business continuity has to be a positive for your organisation.

The area that managers and employers are advised to monitor more closely than ever is staff performance. If older employees fall below the standard required in any aspect of their role, then it is time to performance manage them. If it emerges that they are unfit for the work (mentally or physically) then you are within your rights to discipline them and either find them suitable alternative roles or dismiss them for incapability.

As employees keep working beyond 65 some may want to work less hours or shed some responsibility. In such cases you could consider re-defining their terms and conditions in return for a reduction in wages but remember, any agreed changes should be recorded in their contracts of employment.

It’s my guess that we will see the majority of employees electing for retirement or opting for reduced hours or respnsibility when they feel they can no longer do their jobs to previous high standards, rather than face the embarrassment of being performance managed out.

We may even laugh about the policy of such a relatively short working life in years to come….

“Can you remember when everyone was expected to retire at 65” says the young apprentice.

“Yes, replies the Manager wistfully, as she opens a telegram from King William to celebrate her 100th birthday!“

Go to www.pain-free-staff.co.uk and download your copy of my free guide for employers and managers who want better results and less hassle.

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The Daily Telegraph reported on 5th February 2011 that following the review the VBS will no longer go ahead (or at least will be significantly scaled back). Instead of millions having to register themselves with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) which would conduct criminal record checks and oversee a national database, the responsibility will shift to employers to ensure staff are properly checked and cleared to work.  (Nothing new there then!) Only those in sensitive posts or who have intensive contact with children or vulnerable people will need to be cleared and undergo criminal record checks. It is expected that the ISA and the Criminal Records Bureau will be merged into a single organisation.

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If your employees are human they are prone to fall under the spell of the flu epidemic which strikes every Winter in the UK so why not take the initiative and provide your employees with the flu jab for free in 2011. It will improve their lives and your working environment and outputs.

There are some indirect benefits too…. if customers associate your office with a flu free zone they will warm to you for being so well organised and for providing a germ-free service.

I’m not kidding! I swear that the lady behind the counter at our local Spar shop gave me the damn flu while coughing and spluttering as she totted up the contents of  my shopping basket. Call me petty but I now shop at Co-op!

If employees refuse to have the jab then you cannot force them to do so, but you will be within your rights to tell them that they cannot attend work if they have flu symptoms which means they will not be paid (subject to your contractual sick pay and statutory payment schemes).

But rather than using a stick, it may be worth trying the carrot approach. Get your employees together; tell them your plans and ask them to discuss the pros and cons of the policy. I’m sure you will find that peer pressure brings everyone to their senses. But do it now while the horror of having flu over the Christmas period is still fresh in their minds.  More info from NHS Direct

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We are facing tough economic times and managers will have to start managing performance to ensure that their businesse thrive and survive.  Companies cannot coast through on auto-pilot as their customers will increasingly demand more for their money.

Retaining talent and motivating staff where possible is essential. However, sometimes you have to accept that some employees may never make the grade and will undermine the team’s morale and overall performance and drag others down to their level.

My advice would be to introduce a performance management programme over a short period (for example 1 – 3 months) and during this time you can assess which of your team members are genuinely interested in learning and improving and which are not. (more…)

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