Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Lessons on a train!

Where I learn.

I recently tweeted that I learn (or am reminded of) a lot, from a HR perspective, on trains. 

The train often provides a contained, out-of-office, legit' in-company-time place for colleagues to talk about issues (assuming their boss isn't travelling with them!)... Good and bad.

Have you, like me, ever found yourself accidentally tuning in a conversation between work colleagues? I don't mean to be nosey but it can be fascinating!

Yesterday travelling back from Leeds I was reminded of a key aspect of employee reward/recognition, based on a gentleman telling his colleague about being 'rewarded' at work.

He'd been chosen for a company award for going the extra mile and being a great team player (apparently!) 

His reward: A meal with other high fliers and his MD.

His response: "I'd rather be in the pub with you lot" (his colleagues).

He told his colleagues that he'd politely declined the invite, making something up to avoid going. He said he was grateful, but it wasn't 'his thing'. "Can you imagine?!" he asked them. They nodded, laughed and moved on to talking about sales. So here's the thing:

The plus: The company had obviously done a good thing in recognising his contribution but... 

... The problem: They'd got it wrong when it came to HOW to recognise it. This team player was being rewarded as an individual. And not as he would have chosen. Oops!

The lesson on the train - If you're going to truly reward an employee, make sure it's what they see as such!

What have you heard or discussed on a train recently, and did it teach/remind you of anything?

Thanks for reading!
Denise x

For more:
  • Contact me using the 'Contact form' above right
  • Follow me at: @DamsonHR
  • Call direct on: 07887 643807
  • LinkedIn: Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD

PS - This may become a bit of a feature, so apologies in advance if you ever find yourself sitting next to me on a train!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A good staff survey?

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow!

What your staff survey could be telling you.

In the first instance our survey should be telling you is how your staff feel and how engaged they are.
We all know that to do this part, a staff survey must be meaningful and measurable with clear, relevant questions. We know that staff should be communicated with pre and post a survey, and encouraged to complete it in an engaging rather than forceful way. We also know that it MUST be acted on.

I have lead on countless staff surveys and what is sometimes missing is the why (rather than the what, when and how). Yes, we rightly give staff a voice and assure staff that we will use their feedback to make positive changes - the 'win' for them (if changes actually take place). But what is the win for the organisation given that a staff survey can be costly in terms of time and to some extent money (eg to conduct, communicate, analyse and carry out all the recommendations).

A recent staff survey I worked on focussed heavily on the here and now, with little focus on what had been happening in the organisation and on how people felt it was progressing. The focus on 'the now' was great as a snapshot, but it wasn't alone going to help the organisation plan for the future with an understanding of it's history and progress from a staff perspective.

A good staff survey, in my opinion, should allow the organisation to understand three things:

Where you've been and how far you've travelled (Reflective)
- Some of this will come from comparing historical data, but you can further assess this with questions like what went well and what could we have done better, eg around change; and how things are now compared to the past.

Where you are now (Current)
- How do people feel right now in the moment? And it really is in the moment - a heavy workload can limit open responses and a current issue can very much cloud opinion. (so obviously be careful of the timing of your survey - not always possible if external factors are at play combined with a fixed schedule!). It may with these questions, help to do a benchmarking exercise with others in your sector.

Where you might be headed (Predictive)
- Indicators may come from questions such as: what could we improve, do you see yourself in the organisation in x months time, are you confident in the organisation's plans for xyz. This is especially useful if you don't do interim and/ regular surveys or have regular means of getting feedback.

My tip therefore is to ask at least one of each type of question per section - 
How have we done, how do we do, how should we...?

Knowing all these things in time will actually save the organisation time and money in the longer term. The reflection can tell us what actually worked so we put money in the right place, the current can be used to market the organisation as an employer thus facilitating effective recruitment campaigns and perhaps support on-boarding/reduce turnover, and the predictive can help you review or put plans in place for the future.

Thanks for reading!
Denise x

For more:
  • Contact me using the 'Contact form' above right
  • Follow me at: @DamsonHR
  • Call direct on: 07887 643807
  • LinkedIn: Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Does your 'jobs' page do the job?!

An effective jobs page should be an attraction:

 - Seven tips that will help you connect with potential employees.

You've shortlisted the candidates that can do the job, and before they come to the interview you'd expect them to check out your website to find out more about you. But there's a website stop before this and the question is...

Does your website encourage the right people to apply in the first place? 

Sure there are lots of candidates out there and it's an employers market, but many organisations are competing in the same talent pool.  And yes, the most sought after employees are often headhunted. But, if you're relying on people to find you, you need to be attractive or they'll move on to the next company (possibly your competitors') site.

I was recently asked to review a 'jobs' page as several recruitment drives had been unsuccessful initially (stars were subsequently found I hasten to add!). What I found was a page was designed to simply fill current vacancies rather than engage potential employees and ambassadors. It was also interesting that when I spoke to staff they felt that the jobs page didn't truly reflect their employee experience, which was better than it'd suggested they'd get.

I recommended to them that they saw their 'jobs' page as a way to sell their organisation rather than just advertise a job and that, as well as a source of information, a good 'career' or 'jobs' page should be a platform for long-term connection and engagement.

So, here are seven suggestions that will help make your jobs page work more effectively in terms of attraction:

  1. Make it visually attractive: Having lots of same font text and lists isn't really attractive. People are more likely to click on highlighted texts an engaging image than read through lots of words so use photo's, graphics and video. This is also more diversity friendly.
  2. Make the 'jobs' page part of the overall organisational brand or at least have strong links to it such as the colour scheme. But also, be creative: you as an employer may be different to you as a supplier - just because you're a serious player in your field doesn't mean you aren't a fun employer, so make the distinction if there is one.
  3. Provide interesting information, as well as the obvious. How about including highlights from your staff survey, case studies, or quotes from your employees? However, don't make it up especially if honesty or integrity is one of your values (see point 7!)
  4. It's not just 'what' you say, think about how you say it - Use engaging language that 'talks' to the audience. Use 'we', 'you', 'our' for example, don't be cold and blunt, and remember this isn't the place for too much tech' speak either! 
  5. Encourage interaction - for example, ask questions and link to your social media. Also, think about how someone with a disability can interact appropriately such as enabling sound rather than just text.
  6. Make it easy to navigate - Job hunting is time consuming so provide easy links and make it easy to go back and forth between pages (but avoid having everything crammed in one place - point 1).
  7. Talk about the wider organisation in terms of your values so you attract people who share themOf course people need to know what the job involves, and what the organisation does but often the biggest disconnect in the employer/employee relationship is around values. (Ooh, now there's an idea for another blog!)
Ultimately the page should:
  • Engage potential employees - Remember the strongest potential candidate(s) will want to know why they should work for you!
  • Inspire people to stay connected with the organisation for when the right opportunity comes up.
  • Be something that your existing employees can refer to as a reminder of why they're with you! 
Want to know what a fab site looks like? Here's my example of max'ing the brand and engaging potential employees: 

Get it right* and you'll not just fill vacancies, you'll have people looking out to work for you and employees who are proud to.
(*not on it's own of course!)

Final thought: How do you want people to feel when they look for a job, or more, on your website?!


Thanks for reading!
Denise x

For more:
  • Contact me using the 'Contact form' above right
  • Follow me at: @DamsonHR
  • Call direct on: 07887 643807
  • LinkedIn: Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Jenga for Teams!

Are you really after a team building event?

I recently facilitated a team development event and found myself encouraging the teams manager not to use the word 'team building' to describe it.
For me the idea of 'team building' events don't really address the challenges in most teams, and in this instance the 'building' idea wasn't really stretching enough for them as they were already built! I suddenly found myself having to explain, whereas before I'd just avoided the term. Thinking on my feet, here's how I made distinction between team building and bonding - and what I envisioned for them:

Team building I described this as a bit like Jenga: All the pieces are the same which allows them to fit neatly. The pieces themselves are useful but people rarely use them for anything other than their exact purpose... It's built up for sure but then every time a piece is pulled there's the risk, and expectation, it'll all fall down. The aim becomes coping with the holes and not wanting to be the one to bring it down! Sure, it can be fun - but is this what we really want from/for our teams?

Team bonding... Is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. It can be a struggle to complete when you don't have the box telling you what the picture is to start with. Also it's great when you have all the pieces and they fit together but, remove a bit and the picture annoyingly just isn't complete. And like Jenga, having to fit pieces in doesn't really leave much room for creativity. Sure it can all be glued down, but then you're finished!

Team bridging: For me truly functional, ever developing teams are more like a series of independent Islands connected by a series of bridges: it's more about allowing each thing to stand alone (so that strengths and talents are recognised as unique) but that these - individuals - are connected. Bridges are usually built to be sound structures so that whatever flows beneath them, be it rough or still, things remain strong. 

So that's what we did on the day. We bridged, and it seemed to be one if the lessons that resonated the most. What are your thoughts on Build, Bond and Bridge?

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

New year, new blog post, Old problem

It’s not right but it’s very real. 

2014 has gotten off to an interesting start for me and I’ve found myself already doing a first! Last week I was part of a local radio show, and shared the studio with two young people talking about their charities.

I was there with my image consulting hat on to talk about the impact of colour on your mood, in relation to Blooming Monday happening on the 20th January. Jodie (of Connect Bullying) and Aidan (of Talk Easy Trust) were there to talk about their experiences around bullying and mental health respectively. This was really interesting to me as I look to continue engaging with young people on issues around personal image in general, and how it impacts upon self-esteem and more.

I was brought into the discussion on bullying (amongst other things) and that’s where my two ‘roles’ crossed - there I was to talk about colour when a question came in about workplace bullying.  A ‘caller’ asked the question about how to handle bullying when it was taking place at work, and about the particular challenge of when the bully is also the boss.

Interestingly, I had also recently commented on the video here: depicting bullying at work as it might happen in a school setting. Whilst I think it’s a great, powerful and thought provoking video – for me it misses a key point which is that bullying is often far more subtle than the physical bullying we see therein. And it is this form of bullying that we are far more likely to see in the workplace. Examples of which include belittling someone, name calling, inappropriate ‘jokes’, ignoring someone, undermining their confidence, criticising them, excluding them.

Little though it was, my advice was to contact your HR department and use the policies that exist ; Jimi the host talked about the organisations duty of care re employee welfare (bullying can lead to stress, depression etc), and general advice from both Aiden and Jodie - quite rightly - was to talk to someone about the situation and ‘get it out there’.

Whatever the form of bullying, the age of the victims/perpetrators and where it takes place it is NEVER acceptable in my opinion, and the longer-term implications even into adult life can not be under-estimated*
However I do think the ‘why’ needs to be considered if the response is to be relevant and effective. Is the bullying an outcome of the ‘perpetrator’ sadly ‘playing it forward’, someone who is covering up their own ‘weakness’ or someone genuinely being mean. If we understand this, we are much more likely to be able to use the most effective solution (sanction) to make it stop.

So, my questions are these: what are your experiences of bullying at work, what is your organisations attitude to bullying, what can be done to eradicate it where it exists, and what can/would YOU personally do about it?

A final thought:

If you are being bullied, please don't try and deal with it alone and in the meantime I hope you find some strength in this quote:

I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” 

  • For more information/references:

- Aidan: and Twitter: @TalkEasyTrust
- Jodie:; and Twitter: @ConnectBullying
- *Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald – a book about the implications of bullying manifesting in later life:
Blooming Monday: and Twitter #BloomingMonday