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Reasons to embrace flexible working and how to make it work

Over the past few years, the term ‘flexible working’ or ‘flexi-time’ has definitely become more prevalent. However, the latest HR buzz word is more than just that – there has been a rise in the number of companies now offering employees the option of flexible working hours. As an employer, you may have overheard remarks from staff, who long for a little more freedom and so this is something you are willing to consider. This begs the question: what exactly is flexible working and how do you make it work? Here, Consult HR’s Julie Pollock shares her expert advice on this.

Undeniably, flexible working offers the employee many benefits; as well as a better work-life balance, flexi-time can mean no more 6am starts, long commutes in rush hour traffic and the ability to attend private appointments when necessary. But it isn’t all about the employee. Introducing flexible working boasts benefits for businesses too. Employee productivity is increased, you’ll attract the best talent and staff absence levels are reduced.

In fact, Microsoft Japan recently revealed that a four-day work week ‘boosts productivity’, with a 40% increase in sales achieved, during an experiment in which staff worked a four-day week on full pay. As well as this, meetings were restricted to a maximum of 30-minutes and online discussions were encouraged as an alternative to face-to-face meetings. As well as a dramatic increase in sales, Microsoft Japan saw a reduction in electricity consumption by 23% and paper printing by 59%.

Top tips for introducing flexible working

In order to introduce flexible working into your workplace and make it a success, you’ll need to put in some groundwork first. Considering the following points is a good place to start:

Do you trust staff?

Quite simply, flexible working won’t work unless you can fully trust employees to get on with their work. Trust is undoubtedly a massive part of any flexible working initiative. Employers need to trust that the work is being carried out if staff aren’t in the office and employees need to feel trusted to complete the work in the own time, without feeling like they are constantly having to check in with someone.

Do you have the correct systems and technology in place?

To ensure systems run smoothly, it’s vital that the correct systems and technology are in place. If your flexible working policy means employees can work from home, they need to be equipped with everything they usually have in the office, to make sure their working day flows. This may include access to work emails, a mobile phone and any computer programmes they usually use in the office.

Is everyone on the same page?

Flexible working can mean different things to different people and it definitely isn’t a one size fits all model. So with this in mind, here are a few of the options:

Flexible starting and finishing times

One of the most common approaches to flexible working is to offer workers flexible start and end times. Rather than being strict about a 9-5 day, some firms offer the option to work from 10am to 6pm or 8am to 4pm. This hour to play around with means staff can drop the kids off to school, attend the gym or simply miss out on rush hour traffic, all of which ensures a less stressful start to the day.

The ability to work from home

While it isn’t for everyone, many people admit to being more productive when they work from home, quite simply because there are less distractions. It also helps with that healthy work-life balance that so many of us crave.

Creating a fusion

And of course, there’s the option to combine these two elements. Perhaps you require workers to be in the office for a set number of hours per week, while completing the rest at home.

If you are considering implementing flexible working and require help getting it started, contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email: julie@consulthr.co.uk to discuss further.

Top tips for managing a negative employee

Here at Consult HR, one of the most common complaints we hear about from managers is dealing with a negative employee. Whilst it might be common it is one of the areas that managers find most difficult to deal with. Passing the blame onto others when work is incomplete, moaning about workloads or someone ‘discretely’ spreading negativity within the team… sound familiar?

Someone of a less than sunny disposition tends to spread their negativity to others. Dealing with a single negative employee is one thing, but a whole team of pessimists can be harder to handle. Therefore, when you spot those not-so-admirable qualities in someone, you’ll probably be keen to nip it in the bud before that negative energy spreads.

Therefore, with this in mind, here are our top tips for effectively dealing with a negative employee.

Negative employee

Don’t avoid the problem

The thing about negativity is that it can spread like wildfire. As well as having a knock on effect by impacting the mood and stress levels of others in the workplace, productivity and customer service can suffer too.

It’s easy to dismiss negative behaviour with remarks like “that’s just her personality.” But, as the manager, your failure to take action is likely to affect others in your team and before you know it you could have a toxic working environment on your hands which in turn, can lead to high levels of staff leaving, absenteeism, poor productivity and ultimately a negative impact on your business’ reputation and profits. Before you know it, the positive, motivated, engaged team that you dreamed of disappears due the work of ‘one bad apple’.

Negative employee

Effective ways to deal with a negative employee

While this is most likely to be one of the more awkward conversations you’ll ever have with a member of staff, it is of the upmost of importance. If you fear negativity is creeping into your workplace, put the following steps in place to minimise it:

  1. Set the scene

From the outset at induction and/or during team meetings, management should discuss with the staff the type of working environment you want all staff to work towards. If staff have any problems, they should be aware of who they should address these with and overall sending the message that the working environment you are working towards is one of a ‘can do’ attitude with lots of positivity and the benefits that staff will get from this and encouraging all staff to get behind this.

By doing this, you are not identifying anyone in particular and this may be enough for the rest of the team to get behind the company ethos and turn ‘negative nelly’ around.

negative employee

  1. Make it known

Having a quiet chat (quiet being the operative word) is vital when dealing with a negative employee. Don’t be tempted to bring up this behaviour in front of others as you run the risk of making the situation worse. Bring the employee in for a chat about the problem. There is a chance that they weren’t aware of their attitude. Or, they may use the time to share a problem that they are facing. Getting it out in the open is the easiest way to resolve the situation.

It is also important to remind your employee that they control their attitude and that complaining and fault-finding is a choice. If the employee is coping with a personal matter that is affecting their attitude at work, be sympathetic without condoning the behaviour.

  1. Change their mindset

If your discussion doesn’t go the way you intended and the employee in question can’t see the issue or blames those around them for their attitude, the next step is to try to change their mindset. Highlight the issues surrounding their behaviour and the impact that it could have on others in the workplace. Try to make them see things from a different perspective and offer alternative ways of thinking in order to try to change their mindset. Be specific about their behaviour and what they could do differently. For example, show them an email they sent and how it could have been worded in a more positive way.

During your meeting also focus on the positives, what this employee does well, but his propensity to criticise everything and everyone quickly becomes a weight on the shoulders of the staff and the company. Tell the employee that you’re interested in hearing their concerns, but that you want them to tell you rather than other employees.

Negative employee

4. Force positive behaviour

When you talk with the employee about his negative attitude, give him a goal: Tell him that if he has a problem with a plan, a person, or a situation, you would like to hear something positive he’s found as well. If he’s going to focus on the bad, make him consider the good, too. You can’t change how he thinks, but you can set standards about the language and tone he uses at work.

5. Set the standards and behavioural changes expected

If things don’t improve, more formal processes should be put into place. Clearly set out what you expect in terms of behavioural change and within what timeframe and set a future date to discuss progress. Talk about what specific behaviours you need to see and which benchmarks will demonstrate that changes have taken place.   Give the employee the chance to change their ways.

6. Know when to say goodbye

Sometimes the person simply isn’t a good fit for your business.  When they show they can’t or won’t change, or their behaviour warrants disciplinary action, it could be time to consider letting them go. You should refer to your company policies and procedures and follow these at all times.

Negative employee

If you are struggling to deal with negative employees in the workplace, help is at hand. Contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email julie@consulthr.co.uk to discuss further.

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