Let’s not be colour blind but colour brave

The aftermath of the Brexit referendum gave rise to a chain of racist and xenophobic incidents. The 57% increase in reports of hate crime following the vote reminds us that we must not become complacent in our continued efforts to achieve equality, inclusion and acceptance for all. Ethnicity and colour are among the most uncomfortable subjects for anyone, including those working in diversity and inclusion, to confront. This discomfort, however, should not and cannot allow us to shy away from discussing big subjects that have a profound impact on society at large and our workplaces. 

What HR can gain from gamification?

As companies increasingly look to introduce gamification in the workplace to drive higher employee engagement and boost productivity, so HR can use the same process to seek out, engage and recruit tomorrow’s top talent. 

Trade Union Act 2016 - the impact for HR

The Trade Union Act received Royal Assent on 4 May 2016 and is expected to be brought in force in during the summer, with implementing regulations being made over the following few months. The headline changes are well known: tougher thresholds for ballots, particularly for important public services, a time limit on a ballot's mandate for industrial action, and a doubling of the notice of action that employers must receive (to 14 days). The Act will also introduce more detailed rules on voting papers, picketing and various union rules. So what are the likely ramifications for HR practices in the UK?

Take care when appointing volunteers

The number of volunteers has increased dramatically according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. And this seems to be particularly so amongst 16-25-year-olds. So what steps should you be taking to ensure you are doing the right thing from an employment law perspective? Because not adhering to specific terms and conditions in the appointment and management of volunteers could potentially be costly. 

LGBT: lesbian, gay and what?

Whilst lesbian and gay are well-known terms, the colourful array of other identities that are included in the LGBT – lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender – family are often less visible and less well understood. Some people may have wondered what ‘non-binary’ meant, when 20-year-old Maria Munir came out as such to Barack Obama on his recent trip to London. Others might have wanted to ask why it is sometime LGBTI or LGBTQ instead of LGBT. Read on to learn about these important terms - essential knowledge when supporting LGBT inclusion at work.

What do Generation Z want and how should we be responding?

It is possibly trite to say that attracting Generation Z is one of today’s biggest challenges – but that doesn’t make it any less true. Recent research from Capita Resourcing revealed that 83% of HR leaders see attracting Generation Z as more of a business challenge than meeting growth targets or innovating. Generation Z’s priorities are markedly different from Millennials, Generation X or the Baby Boomers. They have an entrepreneurial mindset, value authenticity and are financially independent. They also value independent working and regard the traditional 9-5 working day as outdated. With this next generation entering the workforce in the next few years, organisations must understand what they care about - and what resonates with them - to attract the best talent. 

The nonsense of high performance

How good a driver are you? Ask any group of drivers and almost all will rate themselves above average. If that’s the case, who are all the bad drivers out there? Ask a manager if he’s good at his job and almost all will tell you that they are. And yet, just as with driving, by definition, most must be average, some less good, some a bit better and a few will be truly exceptional. It is only possible to be above average or higher performing if there are plenty of people who are not. Does that mean they are all losers, wasters or slackers? Of course not. That’s just nonsense.

Childcare Vouchers v Tax-Free Childcare

Tucked away in the Chancellor’s March 2016 Budget document was the following: ‘From early 2017, the government is introducing Tax-Free Childcare to help working parents with the cost of childcare, ensuring more parents who want to can go out to work or increase the number of hours they work. Tax-Free Childcare will be rolled out in such a way that allows the youngest children to enter the scheme first, with all eligible parents brought in by the end of 2017. The existing Employer-Supported Childcare will remain open to new entrants until April 2018 to support the transition between the schemes’. Much of the above was already known to HR professionals, but the last sentence is of key importance as we now know that Employer Supported Childcare (better known as Childcare Vouchers) will be available to new users for the next two years. So, armed with this new information, what action should employers be taking?

Zero-hours contracts aren’t zero cost

The continued growth of zero-hours contracts which do not guarantee a minimum number of hours of work has recently been confirmed by the Office for National Statistics. This may in part be due to the greater recognition of the term and publicity surrounding them as well as seasonal work. Also, while the 800,000+ workers with them represent just 2.5% of the employed workforce, they are not evenly distributed. 

What next after the doctors’ strikes - the employee relations implications?

Despite the government’s naïve proposals to ‘fiddle with figures’ relating to strike ballots and allow agency staff to replace striking workers to curb strikes, the on-going junior medical doctors and BMA dispute once again shows the need for some form of arbitration if industrial action is curtailed and to actually think about the impact on managing people post-disputes. This recent conflict shows how ACAS has been involved in such a process, but less can be gleaned about the HR management fall-out from it.

Mansplaining feminism

In November 2015 I broke down some of the most commonly used diversity and inclusion (D&I) terms including the difference between equality, diversity and inclusion, see ‘Diversity and inclusion ... in the beginning’. Here I pick up with a focus on the theme of gender and simplify five key phrases for discussing gender equality at work and beyond.

The productivity deficit – two workforce demographics to target

Recently released figures confirmed that the UK economy remained a growing one in 2015, albeit the headline figures have dropped a little from those of the previous year. Commentators have made much of the fact that this growth outstrips many other developed economies. This is of course a good thing for the country, but perhaps masks a very real challenge to the success of the nation.

A new paradigm for leadership?

In today’s world of global connectivity we seem to have forgotten the power of authentic, two-way human conversations – the importance of relationships is often either ignored or actively rejected.

Diversity and inclusion ... in the beginning

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is becoming an increasingly hot topic in HR and wider business circles. Many organisations, however, are only just beginning their D&I journey – which can be a daunting prospect. With awards in this space now ten a penny, HR folk and their customers can feel nervous to ask for help or simply clarify what basic jargon means; especially when they see peers and competitors winning recognition for work they feel that they perhaps should be doing already. Fear not. Over the coming months HRBullets will be publishing a series of blogs which break down commonly used D&I terms, focussing on a different diversity strand in each piece. 

Why do women continue to experience inequalities at work?

In the last decade women have been entering professional and managerial positions in roughly the same proportions as men in the UK. However, they remain vastly underrepresented in top jobs while the gender pay gap is reported to have widened since 2006 from 92% to 95% globally.

We dream the same dream, we want the same thing ... or do we?

I’m something of a rarity. I am one of those people who have moved between HR practice and the legal profession. I was an employment lawyer - now I’m an HR professional. I am fascinated by the interaction between HR folk and employment lawyers. They are two sides of the same coin, yet can be wary of one another and can misunderstand each other’s motivations. Having a foot in both camps, I love talking to HR professionals about their perceptions of employment lawyers and vice versa. Why? Well, I think that the two professions are more closely aligned than either (on the whole) cares to admit. And I strongly believe that working life can be made better by a broader understanding and deeper collaboration between the two professions.

Who wants to be best practice? Not me.

It was a leading fashion house that stunned me with their thinking. Their brief was simple, ‘We lead fashion. We don’t follow it. This is our culture. We don’t want best practice in leadership development - we want leading practice’. It turned my own thinking on its head. Rather than trying to be like the best - why not create the standard others follow? I realised it was the difference between the person who teaches you how the best people do things and being the person creating the best way. It’s a far more exciting place to be.

Women on boards – but what about performance?

Lord Davies is right to put more pressure on organisations to create more balance in the boardroom. Not because it’s fair, or nice to have, but because it’s well-known that mixed gender teams bring better performance. 

A diversity and inclusion tutorial from three diversity anti-heroes

HR professionals often get told how to do their jobs better by non-HR professionals. If you speak to a diversity and inclusion specialist, they will probably tell you that they experience this phenomenon tenfold. 

Managing mental health in the workplace

Mental health issues are a growing problem in today’s workplace – the latest CIPD absence survey reported that over 40% of employers have seen an increase mental health problems such as depression over the past 12 months. But while companies of all shapes and sizes increasingly understand the importance of mental health, many are unsure of how to handle or communicate these issues.
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