According to a recent study from CV-library, the UK’s leading independent job board, one in four employees (22.5%) admitted there are certain questions they are afraid to ask their employer, with that number rising to 31.3% amongst millennials.
A survey conducted with 1,000 UK professionals found that despite their initial fear and hesitation, just under half (49.4) would feel less awkward approaching their boss once they got to know them more.
The top five
The questions employees feared bringing up with their employer most were:
Speaking about the results, Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library said:
“There’s a fine line between being too passive, and too aggressive when it comes to your employees asking about pay rises or promotions. It’s important that you create a culture where they feel comfortable enough to ask you anything, it’s then up to you whether or not you grant their request.
If your employee rightly deserves that promotion or whatever it is they’re asking for, hopefully you’ll have already noticed and can reward them for their efforts. Communication is key in the workplace, and providing they approach you in a professional manner with a reasonable request, there is no reason why your staff should feel nervous about asking a question.”
As with most situations, the longer we’ve known a person the more confident we feel about speaking to them. But how long should that take on average? According to the survey, 30.3% of workers believe it would take a month or so for them to feel comfortable, while 23.4% felt that a week would be sufficient.
Surprisingly 8.5% said they would never feel comfortable talking to their boss.
“It’s worrying to learn that nearly one in 10 said they’ll never feel comfortable with their boss, especially if this stops them from asking important questions. It may always be nerve wracking asking for help, flexible working or for whatever it is they need, so as an employer it’s important that you create a friendly culture where your workforce feel that they can approach you if necessary. In the end we’re all human and your employees just want to do what’s best for their career. As a leader you should support and nurture this.”
How can you become more approachable?
Any good leader will champion communication within their ranks. Failure to communicate well with your team opens the door for potential issues down the line. While it’s easy for people to advise creating a friendly atmosphere how do you go about implementing such a thing?
The best way is to be visible. The harder it is for your employees to see you, the less chance they are going to have to engage with you in any meaningful way. Simply walking through the workplace and asking people how they are getting on is a great chance for you to build a rapport with your employees. You’d be surprised how loyal people become when they feel a part of the team.
Most workplaces are heavily reliant on IT and digital systems which improve the speed and versatility of communications for businesses. Whilst doing so it also provides workers with more opportunities for personal, non-work related, communication which employers often want to keep to a minimum.
The question of whether it is reasonable for an employer to monitor communication systems in the workplace is a constant tug of war between the employer’s legitimate right to protect their business data and prevent abuse of the systems, and the employee’s human rights; in particular Article 8 ‘Right to respect for private life and correspondence’.
In the particular judgement of Barbulescu v Romania the issue concerned an employee who had been using instant messaging on his work PC, for private communication, despite being aware that it was against the workplace rules and resulted in his dismissal from employment. In January 2016 the European Court of Human Rights judged that the monitoring of content in personal communication in the workplace was not a breach of human rights subject to applying the practice proportionately and within reason.
In a somewhat surprising turnaround the Grand Chamber of the ECHR has reversed the decision on appeal. The facts of the case are that whilst Barbulescu knew that use of the IT systems were forbidden for private use, he had not been notified that the content of the messaging service would be monitored. In the absence of him being able to mark the communication as private he had a right to believe that the correspondence would remain private. The monitoring of the communication was therefore a breach of his right to respect for a family life and correspondence. Additionally the Court noted that the employer had failed to take adequate precautionary measures to prevent there being a substantial interference with his right as many colleagues had seen the correspondence and open conversations about it followed. The employer ought to have limited access to the content to those who needed to know for the purposes of disciplinary proceedings.
Whilst this case deals with a messaging system the principle equally applies to personal emails, text messages, phones calls and potentially the use of certain websites. In order for employers to monitor and review the content of any communication it is not adequate to simply outlaw personal use, it follows that employers must have taken adequate steps to inform employees that there would be invasive monitoring in place and further that such monitoring is applied fairly.
Opsium’s advice is to check and re-draft your employee handbooks where necessary, make sure your data protection policies are up to date and crucially that there has been sound training provided to all staff who have any control mechanism to monitor the activities of other staff members to ensure that monitoring is controlled, proportionate, reasonable and kept as confidential as possible.
In this edition of Community Chest, we look to the business community to answer how to effectively handle a customer complaint and potentially turn it into a positive.
A business can live or die on its reputation. That’s why so many spend so much time and money training their staff to provide a first-class service to the customer at every stage of their journey. But people are human, and occasionally service can fall short of what is expected. That’s why we scoured the business.com community to find out the best techniques to turning an angry customer into a loyal one.
Don’t attempt to change their mind
Don’t approach a situation with the mind set of changing theirs. Instead, aim to understand what their frustration is. Once you do, you’ll be in a better place to remedy the situation.
Listen and learn
See each complaint as an opportunity to practice listening. In some instances, a customer will just want to vent their initial frustration and come away feeling that they have been listened to, so take the cotton wool out of your ears and stuff it in your mouth!
While it is difficult to sit there while someone shouts at you the worst thing you can do is match tone. Instead, keep your tone low and steady and let them speak, even if what you’re hearing isn’t the full story, the worst thing you can do is interrupt.
Repeat after me
At the end of the conversation, repeat back some of the customers’ concerns and frustrations, this highlights to them that you have been listening. Also give them clear instructions on what you are going to do to help them and a time frame in which you will get back to them.
Do what you say you will
Even if you fail to achieve what you set out to within the time frame, contact the customer when you say you will. Be honest about what you have been able to get done, and set a new time frame if needed. A customer will appreciate the call even if a solution hasn’t been reached rather than a broken promise.
Put yourself in their shoes
We’re all customers, therefore when we deal with a complaint it should be easy to empathise with the customer. Often, an initial response filled with empathy can stem any further animosity.
Admit when you’re wrong
In this day and age of claims and legal action, the fear of admitting liability can be all too real for most. But the truth is that acknowledging where you have failed and admitting you are wrong can go a big way to solving most issues. Elton John put it best, when he said: ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’.
If there’s a problem, fix it
Do whatever it takes to fix the problem. Even if the solution comes at a cost to the business, it is far less expensive than having an unhappy customer, and could even turn the complainant into a fan. People will be more likely to show loyalty to a business that seemingly bent over backwards to fix a problem.
You can’t win them all
If you do all the above and still have an irate customer, remember that you can’t win them all. Also, don’t allow a customer to overstep the mark with rude, offensive or derogatory language to your staff. Frustrations are one thing, but bullying and harassment of your staff should never be tolerated.
If you have a question you’d like answered by the business community, or you have advice and guidance you think will be relevant on one of our current topics email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages and use hashtag #OpsiumCommunityChest
In a recent survey by workplace ratings company ViewsHub, 50,000 employees across 11 different sectors found that tech companies rated HR as being the least effective in their business.
On a score out of 5, HR departments in tech companies finished bottom of the 11 sectors, with an average effectiveness rating of 2.66, well below the average of 3.45.
HR departments in Travel came top with 4.20, with food coming second with an average score of 3.70, and large companies with a market capital of more than $10bn rounded out the top three with 3.63.
The holy trinity
The effectiveness of each sector’s HR department was calculated on three criteria:
The CEO of ViewsHub, Ab Banerjee, said:
“It’s time for more managers to know what their employees think. We started collecting this data years ago. HR departments at tech companies have lagged behind other industries throughout that time.
“If managers had been looking at this data, it would have been an early warning sign. They would have had the information they needed to have acted. It is essential that managers and leadership teams have access to this type of feedback data for their organisations.
“HR departments might say they feel sidelined by tech firms. But they also have to take responsibility for this data, and act accordingly. This data shows that one of the places where HR departments fell down was responsiveness. For whatever reason, employees have developed the perception that human resources departments aren’t responding to their concerns; they weren’t responsive enough. HR departments in tech firms might want to launch engagement schemes to try to correct this.”
Age old debate
This latest data, once again, raises the debate of in-house HR departments vs external agencies. Our viewpoint is that as an external support agency we remain impartial when it comes to HR issues and act in the best interest of the employer. We aim to provide clear and consistent advice and guidance that best supports the business.
Do you agree with these figures? What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of HR? Let us know on our social media channels.
According to data from XpertHR, employee absence is on the rise as businesses face intense pressure to provide cover at a cost.
In 2016, employee absence has gone up to a median of 6.6 days per employee, rising to 9.1 days for the public sector, equally a working time loss of median 2.9%. The number is higher in larger organisations as the data found that employers with more than 1,000 staff lost 3.8% of working time, or 8.8 days per employee.
For companies with fewer than 100 employees that number dropped to just 1.8%.
Year on year
While the numbers are up from 2015, 5.8 days per employee, they are down when compared to 2006, when absence cost businesses 3.5% of working time, or 8 days per employee.
And it’s not just working time that is lost, according to XpertHR, the cost of providing cover for absent employees cost a business an estimated £455 per employee per year. Not to mention the adding ‘cost’ to a business that is directly attributed to absence such as reduced performance or service, missed business opportunities and the added stress to the workforce who need to cover for employees in their absence.
Speaking about the data, Sheila Attwood, XpertHR managing editor for pay and HR practice said:
“High levels of employee sickness absence represent a significant financial cost to the business, and can have an impact on its operations and the wellbeing of those having to cover for absent colleagues. Employers should use the data they collect on absence rates to be proactive in effectively managing absence in their organisation.”
Does your business suffer from a high level of employee absence? If you’re struggling to deal with lost working time and need a solution that works for everyone, contact us to see how we can help.
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