Coaching, a strategy for goals and personal growth.

Why work with a coach?

Coaching is an area of our business that is really growing. It’s something that I personally do more and more and really enjoy. With careers become more fluid and individuals running portfolios, aspiring to self employment or considering radical changes, the timing has never been better to work with a coach.

In the sports world an athlete doesn’t get to the top of their profession without the guidance and support of a coach. Without a coach they would not be at the peak of their performance, achieve the goals they set themselves and gain the success they so badly want.

Whatever your ambitions, be they running your own business, wanting to progress in your career or achieve a happy work-life balance we know that:

  • If you commit your goals to writing you are 40% more likely to achieve them.
  • If you tell someone else you are 60% more likely to achieve them.
  • If you have a coach you are 95% more likely to achieve your goals.

Coaching can come in many forms – but a coach is someone who will enable you to improve, motivate you and hold you accountable to set and achieve your goals, enabling your personal growth. When we ask people about personal growth it is often something they abandoned long ago as other responsibilities crept into their lives. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Some of the positive benefits of working with a coach are:

  • Time to focus on YOU and what you want to achieve.
  • Achieve greater results in less time.
  • Someone to challenge, motivate and support you.
  • Enable you to come up with a fresh approach to an old problem.
  • A safe supportive environment to discuss your issues and test out your ideas.
  • Your personal development mentor.
  • Give you accountability and commitment.
  • Create an action plan and support you in achieving it.
  • Someone to provide unconditional support and praise or give constructive feedback.

Coaches provide:

  • Regular focus, motivation and make you clearly accountable
  • An objective impartial point of view.  Unlike your friends, partner, family, work colleagues or boss.
  • A different perspective – allowing you to step back and take a fresh look at things.
  • A safe environment in which to talk through your challenges and issues.
  • Questions that will uncover the source of any problem or blockage.
  • Identify what is really important for you.
  • Challenge – to stretch you and nudge you out your comfort zone.
  • A sounding board for your ideas.

Retaining your flexible / seasonal workforce… things to consider

snoopy-charlie-brown-end-of-summerIt is the end of the season now for ‘Happy Holidays’ and most of us are on our way back home for the winter.  Some of us are already thinking about next year though.  You may remember that one of my first postings was about leaving a role from an employee’s point of view.  To bring things full circle, I was considering some pointers for organisations like ‘Happy Holidays’ who are keen to retain their flexible workforce even though there is a break of a few months before work starts again.

Flexible working is becoming more widespread and can be beneficial for both organisations and individuals; after all not everyone wants to work full time, all of the time.  If you have some talented / skilled staff and want to retain them even when work isn’t available what can you do?  Some suggestions could include the following:

  • Does the person know that you would like them to work for you again in the future?  Be explicit about this and make sure that they know that you value their skills and expertise.  Be clear that you would like to offer them work again when it is available.
  • Have an honest, open conversation about the gap in the work and how it affects for you both.  Are you both ok with the gap?  Does the person want to work for you again when the work resumes? (Be clear about both or your expectations.)
  • Are there any other work options coming up?  They may not be the same but they could have tranferrable skills you could use.
  • Assuming the answer is yes, agree how you will keep in touch during the gap.  Keeping in touch means they still feel part of things and will increase the prospects of them returning to you later.  It could be as simple as email newsletters, other corporate updates or even a Christmas card.
  • Do you want them to do any training / skills updating / CPD (continuous professional development) during the gap?  Is this obligatory or just preferable?  (if it’s obligatory are you going to pay them to do it?)
  • Do you want to offer any retainer payments or welcome back payments as an incentive for their return?  Or are there any other benefits you could offer as an incentive to them to return?
  • If they can’t return to work for you, can they recommend you to other colleagues with similar skills and experience who you might want to offer work to?  (this could be another incentive such as a ‘recommend a friend’ scheme.)

Motivated, talented staff are worth a lot – so even if your initial reaction to some of the points above is ‘no’, you might want to really weigh up the costs and advantages again and decide if you really can afford not to do some of these things after all.

So until next season……..  A bientot.

Flu have got to be serious!

It’s that time of year when GP surgeries and private health organisations are promoting flu jabs. We often get asked about the benefit of flu jabs and what impact, if any, does the injection have on sickness absence in the workplace.

Flu marketing

Why bother?

Minor illnesses (such as flu) accounted for 27.4 million lost working days in the UK economy in 2013. This is 30% of all sickness absences in the same year, which is by far the most common reason given. A survey carried out by the Co-operative Group in 2010 found that a total of 7.6 million working days are lost each year in the UK specifically because of flu, costing the British economy £1.35bn.

It is usual for an individual with flu to take up to 5 days absence from work and it is estimated that sickness absence causes by flu costs an employer £522 per employee.

A review of 55 case studies found that there were immediate and financial benefits from wellbeing interventions found in a number of cases across all sectors and business sizes (Price Waterhouse Coopers, 2008).

One example of this was an NHS organisation, where a voluntary flu immunisation programme for staff led to two fewer working days absence among those who were immunised. In monetary terms, over two years the benefit of this programme was 9.2 times the cost: good health was found to be good business for employers.

Vaccination really can work. A workforce can reduce lost work days by up to 45% during an outbreak of flu.

NHS Hospital staff in South Tyneside are preparing for the impending winter by getting their flu jabs.  The Trust has trained ‘flu champions’ to help its occupational health department deliver the campaign at South Tyneside District Hospital and at community health venues in Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Dr Bob Brown, executive director of nursing and patient safety, said: “The flu vaccine is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus which can cause severe illness and deaths among at-risk groups, including older people, pregnant women and those with a health condition – even one that is well-managed.

More about Flu vaccinations

Flu vaccination by injection, commonly known as the “flu jab” is available every year on the NHS to protect adults (and some children) at risk of flu and its complications.

Whilst Influenza or Flu can be unpleasant, if you are otherwise healthy it will usually clear up on its own within a week. However, flu can be more severe in certain people, such as:

  • anyone aged 65 and over
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease)
  • children and adults with weakened immune systems such as those without a spleen etc

Anyone in these risk groups is more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia (a lung infection), so it’s recommended that they have a flu vaccine every year to protect them.

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS as an annual injection to:

  • adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu (including everyone aged 65 and over)
  • children aged six months to two years at risk of flu

But does it work?

Last winter it emerged that the seasonal flu vaccine used offered barely any cover against the main strain of flu encountered in the UK. Mutations in the HA molecule on one of the most common circulating strains, H3N2, meant that the seasonal flu vaccine offered little protection. Public Health England said in February that the less effective vaccine was likely to have been behind a steep rise in flu deaths.

Ministers are urging people not to be put off by failures of the flu vaccine last year. They say those who qualify for a free jab, or spray for children, should take up the offer this winter as it still offers the most effective cover against flu.

Dr Hugh van’t Hoff, GP, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire and Lead for Facts4life commented “Vaccination is one of the triumphs of modern medicine. It has a very good safety record and provides a way of alerting the immune system about dangerous illnesses.”

What is the future?

A universal flu vaccine that protects against multiple strains of the virus is a step closer after scientists created experimental jabs that work in animals.

The vaccines prevented deaths or reduced symptoms in mice, ferrets and monkeys infected with different types of flu, raising hopes for a reliable alternative to the seasonal vaccine.

Doctors hope that a universal flu vaccine would do away with the need for people at risk to have flu jabs every year, and even protect the public from dangerous, potentially pandemic, strains that jump from birds or pigs into humans.

Conventional flu vaccines target the “head” of a molecule called haemagglutinin (HA) that sits on the surface of flu viruses. But because the head of the HA mutates so rapidly, seasonal flu vaccines must be continually re-formulated to ensure they are effective.

Health and Wellbeing strategies

Many employers recognize the benefit of proactive wellbeing strategies. Even if they are not arranging for an in-house vaccination program they are reimbursing employees who get this done privately. Moneysavingexpert has an up to date .

 

Sickness absence – what do your team mates think?


It’s almost the end of the season here in France. Talking to colleagues the other evening we all commented how fit and healthy we were feeling, despite having a busy few months. Looking at our team as a whole, it was interesting to see how healthy we really have been over the last 4 ½ months.

Now to put this into perspective, we are a team of 11 people, 45% of whom are aged over 40 years, with the two oldest people being in their mid 50s. Gender wise we split 45% male and 55% female. Typically if we were like the average UK workforce as a team we would have lost somewhere around 15 to 30 days through sickness absence over the season, depending what industry sector you choose to benchmark us against. Would you be surprised to hear that between all 11 of us, we have only lost 2 ½ days due to sickness absence?

Some of you will know doubt point out that there is bound to be some seasonal variation to consider, as after all we are in sunny France. That could be true but then the first two weeks of the season were cold and wet, but none of us took time off with colds / flu / respiratory infections.

So what do we put our low sickness rate down to? Having discussed it with colleagues, their views were:

• We are getting plenty of exercise, vitamin D and fresh air, so are generally keeping healthier than back in the UK.
• If someone is ill the rest of the team have to pick up the work. It makes you think twice before deciding that you are too sick to work that day.
• The work still needs doing, so a day’s sick today means extra work tomorrow – perhaps it’s not worth it?
• We only get statutory sick pay, so it’s not worth being sick – we might as well soldier on and do a bit of work rather than none at all.

Certainly a case in point is how others in the team respond to their colleagues being ill. Early in the season, one of the younger team members, L, took a day off with a terrible hangover. L didn’t tell his manager he was off work due to a hangover but everyone in the team knew the reason why. Without prompting various colleagues let L know how disappointed they were with him and how they weren’t prepared to pick up his work again if he made a habit of this. A rather shame faced L came back to work the next day and has not taken a day off sick since (despite a few other heavy drinking nights).

Perhaps something to think about the next time you identify that your sickness rates are higher than you would like them to be. Maybe your team can help, rather than it being a management issue?

The future of work – HR implications

Last week it was a pleasure to speak at an event organised by YunoJuno (a freelance resourcing company) about the future of work and HR implications.

It’s a hugely exciting topic and the audience which was predominantly start ups and fast growth businesses were great.

Here are some of the key messages from the night together with a few things I didn’t get time to say.

Conventional HR doesn’t work for dynamic tech companies.

Amelore worked with notonthehighstreet.com in the early days when it was just an amazing idea and later when it was an amazing profitable company and later still as it became a household name. People were a huge issue. Who to hire and occasionally who to fire. What structure, what skill sets were needed as the product range and services grew. When they moved over the rubyonrails that had significant implications for recruitment and how you managed tech folk along side everyone else (answer – you don’t manage them you guide them).

HR had a huge role to play in supporting the founders grow and develop with their business. Everything happened very fast and working in a pacey agile way was key. And always saying yes we can do that.

Workforce is changing, people are working in different ways and value work-life balance. More working longer.

We know that people entering the workforce or at different stages of their careers, want more choice about what they do and when. The removal of statutory retirement means some individuals are thinking actively about careers that they can continue with into their 60’s and beyond. Consultancy and coaching are good examples.

Flexible working is no longer just an option for those with caring responsibilities. More and more people are going freelance.

Technology being used more and more (though not in HR)

Technology is here to stay and is everywhere you look. But most HR departments will focus any effort and budget on HR databases that require lots of feeding. Much documentation is still hard copy and not automated. Identifying and investing in the right systems is important.

Organisations are increasingly using flexible labour

Freelancers are increasingly being used by companies that want to hire specialist skills for a period of time or for a particular project. Peopleperhour estimate that by 2020 upto 50/% of the workforce could be freelance.

Many organisations are paring down or closing their HR departments to use skilled innovative external support when they need it. Many HR professionals traditionally just focus on employees, employment legislation and contractual terms whereas they should be creating an environment and culture that means that is easy for everyone to settle in.

The 5 key things ALL workers need are similar to anyone playing a game.

  1. clear goals
  2. obvious rules
  3. room to manoeuvre
  4. information transparency
  5. real-time feedbackCompany structures are getting flatter

Start ups and growing business tend to have a team with a leader or a few partners and then a workforce. Introducing conventional HR tools like appraisals can create a burden for the 1 or 2 people leading having to appraise everyone.

Our education system is not producing the skills employers need or giving good careers advice

Employers are delighted about the IT skills of those entering the workforce but less so the appitude and attitude of some employees who lack initative. Whilst careers advice can be quite progressive at university level it is severely lacking much earlier on (aged 13/14 yrs) when young people are making important choices and almost exclusively led by educators and not employers.

 Implications for the HR profession

As the world of work changes so must HR.

A venture capitalist shared recently that when she invested in a company, she always advised the CEO that they must spend about 90% of their focus in the first year on people issues. But she said she would never advise them to hire an HR Director because rather than giving them competitive advantage by helping them make quick decisions, she feared they would slow everything down and cripple the business with policies and processes and rules and regulations.

Reward

In a flat structure with a mixture of employees and freelancers, how do you ensure your reward strategy retains all your valuable workers? What else will you offer and will this be available to everyone that works for you or just those with employment contracts? Many companies are still talking about employee engagement which immediately excludes your flexible workforce.

Career progression

In a high tech or fast growing environment flatter structures mean less space for promotion. Even though their remuneration and skill set are progressing, individuals still aspire to that traditional recognition that they are valued. Important to address this with some new and creative thinking unique to your business.

Mindfulness

As we work longer, produce more, expect more – we can burn out. Creating space in your organisation for all your workers to think, to grow, to develop, to innovate and be creative is hugely important for your competitive advantage.

Recruiting & developing the workforce of tomorrow

Careers advice is still led by the educators whose skills set is education. Employers especially smaller ones tend to feel that any activity to guide and develop career choices is wasted however if every employer undertook to influence the careers choice of students in schools or colleges close to them that would have a huge impact on career choices. Corporate career responsibility has a big role to play in inspiring, recruiting and developing the workforce of tomorrow. Who may not all want or need to go to university.

Performance management

At Amelore we have been doing some of our own independent research into the cost and effectiveness of appraisal systems. One organisation with 400 employees is spending approximately 750k on conducting them each year. Hard to quantify the ROI. We think appraisals have had their day for a variety of reasons. They exclude anyone that is not an employee. Most staff don’t value them. Most managers don’t feel they have the times or the skills set to do them properly. If there is an issue people tend not to give honbest feedback or ignore it all together. And most importantly most HR professionals know they don’t work. Many large corporates including Accenture and Deloittes are dropping them in favour of alternatives.

So we firmly recommend you stop appraising and start ameliorating!

And finally

So, be you a business leader or a professional, let me leave you with this thought…

How much of the HR/People related activity in your organisation is focused on things going right rather than things going wrong?

How much of that activity is spent on the majority of your workforce rather than a small minority?

Will that continued focus make you more profitable and competitive? If the answer is no – why are you doing it? Would this focus be acceptable in other departments?

Remember that the definition of madness is continuing the same patterns of behavior but expecting things to turn out differently.

 

Work or life? Is balance possible?


High season is upon us here at Happy Holidays in France. What was supposed to be a job whilst I take a career break in France, perfecting my French, is starting to feel very much as though it is taking over my life. Perhaps this isn’t helped by mobile phones and emails which mean my customers can reach me 24 hours a day with any query (some small and minor, some serious and urgent).work or life

Having done some very demanding roles in my time, work / life balance always seemed like the Holy Grail – something highly desirable to achieve, but usually just out of reach. Was it was actually about the roles / jobs I was doing that stopped me having a life apart from work, or was it is actually me – my ways of working, enthusiasm, determination to do a good job – that actually is the issue. Perhaps I like working long hours, often without a break, or feel that I have to?

A simple example – taking a lunch break. At one of my previous employers we actually had a ‘Take back your lunch break’ campaign to encourage people to take some time out during the working day. (Study after study shows it actually boosts productivity and is good for us.) We went so far as to offer incentives such as free head massages, live music and free food. A few people took advantage of what we offered and participated, but the majority didn’t. We asked those who didn’t take part why and had answers such as ‘I’m too busy. If I take time out I’ll get more behind.’ ’My manager never takes a lunch break and looks down on people in the team who do.’ (Did I take part too? I’m sad to report that I was also in the ‘too busy’ camp and didn’t.)

I told this story to a French colleague recently, who was outraged. ‘How can you not take a lunch break?’ she exclaimed. She and her colleagues who work at the resort always take at least an hour for lunch, sometimes an hour and a half, even on the busiest days. It is a key part of the French culture and the French work place that everyone takes their ‘l’heure de déjeuner’. The resort doesn’t suddenly grind to a halt, the work still gets done and they keep their sanity.

Perhaps something for me to think about the next time a text or phone call interrupts my lunch….. Maybe some balance is possible after all if I choose to make it so.

 

Death of the appraisal and the Amelore way

Today at Amelore Towers we have been pulling together an application for a business award. It’s been an interesting process because when anyone asks you why you are different from all the other HR consultancies you need to be able to clearly answer why.

A key point of difference for us is our approach to performance management systems and our long standing view that the appraisal is dead.

“Long live the appraisal!” (I hear the HR experts cry)

We think company energy should be focused away from appraising to ameliorating, by improving and developing staff and building up knowledge. It turns out Accenture agrees with us and is getting rid of its annual performance reviews too, read about it here…

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/accenture-one-of-worlds-biggest-companies-to-scrap-annual-performance-reviews-10421296.html

We have built our own unique systems and approach to performance. Yes it’s quite contemporary but it suits the ambitious clients we work with.

To compare the two approaches, we created the infamous Amelore Triangles and we share these with clients who are interested in changing how they view and manage HR. Here’s the appraisal triangle:

Appraisals cost businesses time and therefore money. We think these systems demotivate staff and create an endless cycle of the HR function chasing people to complete a form that never gets analysed. And then the cycle starts again.

It’s the same with HR services as a whole. The traditional approach is not what our ambitious and entrepreneurial clients want, they need the freedom to make confident decisions to support growth and to take the right people with them.

The Amelore Way…..

Of course, we keep traditional HR safely in our back pocket ready to use whenever a company needs it, as we recognise that not all businesses are ready for the Amelore way. Is yours?

The right person for the job or the right job for the person?

IMG_3695We’ve had a few changes in our team recently as people decide that the role of Holiday Representative isn’t really for them.  Speaking to them about why they have decided to resign from their role was quite enlightening….  If only they had known the reality of the role before heading out to France then their resignation mid-season could have been avoided.  What a missed opportunity for them and for ‘Happy Holidays’.

Often recruitment is seen very much as a one-sided process, with the employer taking the lead and deciding who they want to employ.  The fact is that the recruitment process is most successful when there is an honest, two-way conversation about what the role really is about and the skills / experience needed to do it successfully.  A ‘no surprises’ approach if you like.  People can then self-select if the role is for them and feel more engaged in the process.

As an employer are you brave enough to do this?  There may be things that you would rather not openly publicise or say about your organisation, but new employees will find them out eventually and may feel disappointed or mislead that you didn’t tell them earlier.  It doesn’t have to be presented as ‘bad news’ or as a negative thing about the organisation – it is just giving an honest, holistic view of things so your potential new recruit can make an informed decision.

You may well find that they return this openness and reveal more about themselves, which will help you make a better recruitment decision.  In the end, we’ve all had seemingly ‘ideal’ candidates who shine at interview, but never quite live up to this when they actually start doing the role.

Surely a grown up, two-way conversation about the reality of the role is best to save everyone wasting time, effort and money on recruiting someone who only stays a matter of weeks or months? Why not give it a try.

Employing children… Are you legal?

How to employ children (legally)…

children on work experienceAs summer begins we get lots of questions in the office from employers about employing those under 16yr olds. Often they will have done work experience and got a taste for working or an accountant or other professional has picked up that there are under 16’s working and the owner is unaware that special restrictions apply.

Please don’t be put off by the restrictions; working when young, either in a work experience capacity or doing an actual job, is a tremendously important part of life and hugely significant in terms of a strong career prognosis.

At Amelore HQ we have put together a Q&A sheet to answer any questions you may have.

What counts as employment?

Employment is any work for a trade or occupation carried on for profit or in any commercial enterprise. So these restrictions do not apply to work inside the home like babysitting.

Do the rules apply to children working in their parents’ businesses?

Yes. This includes work done in a parents business and work for which the child is not paid. Such work is illegal and may lead to prosecution unless the employer obtains a permit for each child employed.

What are the legal requirements?

No child under the age of 13 may be employed at all.
No child may work before 7am or after 7pm on any day (this includes weekends and holidays)
No child may work for more than 2 hours on a school day (no more than one hour before school)
No child may work more than 12 hours in any week (including weekends) during school time
No child aged 13/14 may work more than 5 hours a day on Saturdays/holidays (max 25 hours per week)
No child aged 15/16 may work more than 8 hours a day on Saturdays/holidays (max 35 hours per week)
No child may work more than 2 hours on any Sunday

Do school-age workers have to have a holiday?

All children who work must take a two week break from all employment at some time during the year.

Is any area of work prohibited for young people?

The following are strictly forbidden:

Delivering milk
In pubs and skittle alleys
In commercial kitchens
In any industrial undertaking nor factory nor using a dangerous machine (and remember most machines can be dangerous without adequate training or supervision).
In the sorting of rubbish
In a slaughterhouse or butchery
In an amusement arcade or fair- ground

No child can be involved in the collection of money unless supervised by an adult.

Do I have to pay them?

Children under 16 aren’t entitled to the minimum wage.

Children under 16 don’t pay national insurance so you only need to include them on your payroll if their total income is over their personal allowance.

If they are 16/17 they are entitled to at least £3.79 per hour. You’d need to record this on your payroll and if they earn more than £112 the usual payroll tasks kick in.

What steps must I take as an employer to safeguard children working for me?

Carry out a risk assessment. This can be simply a blank piece of paper which you record any possible risks and think about how you will ensure an accident is prevented. Your LA may ask to inspect this and it would certainly be required if there was a reportable accident and the HSE did an investigation.

Check that children using bicycles ensure at all times that the cycle is safely maintained and lights are fitted. It is also strongly recommended that helmets should be worn

Issue personal safety alarms to children who are out on their own or in lonely places, for example, delivering newspapers

Make sure that the children you employ are suitably dressed, for protection where appropriate. So correct personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn if necessary.

Is there anything else to bear in mind?

These regulations do NOT end on the child’s 16th birthday. They apply until a child is of legal school-leaving age— the last Friday in June of the school year in which the child is 16.

What is the registration process?

The employer must contact their local council and complete an application for a work permit, stating the hours and type of work. This form should also be signed by a parent or guardian. The form is then sent to the child’s school for notification. If the work meets the regulations, a work permit will then be issued within two weeks.

Where can I get more information?

Contact your County Council and ask for Child Employment
Education Entitlement & Inclusion services or call Amelore on 01453 548070.