The Benefits of an Induction Programme.

I recently attended a workshop on Attracting and Retaining Talent and so felt my blog this month should be about one aspect of this subject – Induction.

For new employees, induction has a huge impact on their first impression of an organisation. Through effective induction practices, new starters will better understand their role, the organisation and its values. This in turn enables them to feel integrated with the business and become productive more quickly. 

The importance of induction metrics

As existing research suggests that induction processes are linked to employee retention, it’s key that line managers and people professionals prioritise the induction experience.  If you gather metrics you are able to measure the effectiveness of on-boarding for a business, as this will highlight where improvements can be made.

Metrics collected from the induction process can also be used to identify wider workplace issues and opportunities. The article I read illustrated this by outlining a case study from the banking sector. This organisation identified an increase in the turnover of new starters and exit interview data did not reveal the cause. Participant feedback from on-boarding programmes was available but hadn’t been used to diagnose the issue. This data could have shed light on the quality of training and support that new hires received when they joined, which could have impacted on their performance and satisfaction. 

When should data be collected?

Many organisations collect data at the end of an induction programme to evaluate its effectiveness. Whilst this is useful, it is also suggested that data should also be collected from the start to establish a baseline.  During the 1st year of the employees experience with an organisation for example collecting data 90 days and 180 days after a new employee joins, as well as immediately after the induction experience, will help track the long-term impact of induction and prove its value. 

Finally, induction data should be collected not only when a new person joins the business, but when employees move internally, for example with a relocation or secondment.

What type of data should be collected?

Data to collect include short-term metrics, both objective and subjective. These include employee satisfaction with the programme, induction training attendance, and performance or probation related metrics. 

Long term metrics can also be utilised to demonstrate the value of induction. These include the cost of employee turnover, the time taken for employees to become proficient, and the results of exit interviews. Focus Group feedback can be a very useful tool in understanding the impact of induction. 

The objectives of the induction programme should inform the type of data collected. For example, if employee retention has been identified as a challenge, both short term and long-term turnover metrics should be prioritised to discover the programme’s effectiveness.

Taking action on induction data

To prove the value of investing in induction programmes, I suggest a simple survey be carried out,   and the data collated be shared with your with line managers and business leaders. Companies need to take action to address issues. One example of this is through the creation of a taskforce that can refresh induction training, while also acting as an opportunity to share learning from parts of the business where induction is most effective. 

Of course, the value of people data extends beyond measurement surrounding induction. It allows people professionals to demonstrate the value of organisational practices to key stakeholders, and better solve business problems. Taking an evidence-based approach, of which organisational data forms a part, can ultimately aid better decision-making and improve business productivity. 

Bereavement Leave – how do we handle this in the workplace?

I read an article on bereavement, that Alice Murray recently wrote an article on in the Irish Independent and felt that it was something worth taking notice of:  

“Grief is an indescribable pain. Only people who have felt the jagged shock of it slice through them will understand just how horrendous it can be.

Self care, exercise and even personal hygiene are swept aside in the torrent of emotions.Suddenly the simplest tasks like finding a matching sock, completing a shopping list or even brushing your hair can require a Trojan effort.

Suddenly the simplest tasks like finding a matching sock, completing a shopping list or even brushing your hair can require a Trojan effort.

It’s one of the toughest human experiences that we have to endure, yet, there is still no legal requirement for Irish companies to provide their employees with bereavement leave.

For a nation that handles death so well (Irish wakes are praised the world over) we still don’t handle what comes next with any great compassion or understanding.

When a colleague returns to work after a death, the office falls quiet. No one wants to say the wrong thing, so, in turn they decide to say nothing. We ignore the emotional issue and hope that it goes away.

And that’s exactly what we’re doing by not legally enforcing paid bereavement leave for the people of Ireland. We’re avoiding what is a hard and painful topic. It’s simply not good enough.

Thankfully, some companies have compassionate bereavement leave policies in place already.

Last year, Facebook announced that it had extended its bereavement policy. Doubling its leave, Facebook now offers up to 20 paid days off for employees who have lost an immediate family member or 10 days of leave for an extended family member.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who lost her husband in 2015, wholeheartedly supports the measure. In a Facebook post last year she outlined why.

“Amid the nightmare of Dave’s death when my kids needed me more than ever, I was grateful every day to work for a company that provides bereavement leave and flexibility,” she wrote. “I needed both to start my recovery. I know how rare that is, and I believe strongly that it shouldn’t be. People should be able to work and be there for their families.”

However, we all can’t work at Facebook. What about the people that work in the local café or bank? Is their grief any less real?”

Statutory bereavement leave is common across Europe and around the world; however bereavement leave in Ireland is a discretionary leave, and here is no statutory obligation to provide it.

Many companies do offer up to three days paid leave for the death of close family members, and some companies provide more than this.

A close family member is usually defined as a spouse or civil partner, daughter, son, parent, sister or brother and may include grandparents or in laws.

In the event of death of grandparents, in laws, aunt or uncle one day may be granted.

Any leave the employee will be entitled to will generally depend on what is set out in their Contract of Employment or Employee Handbook. However, leave can also be determined by what is deemed to be custom and practice within the Company.  If employees have been given additional paid time off for bereavement in the past, it will be considered unfair not to give this time off to another employee, so the policy the Company has in place on Bereavement Leave should be applied consistently.

I would advise all companies to a have a policy on bereavement leave in place and have it outlined in the employee handbook.  

We all do not handle grief in the same manner, and employees need to be supported at this time.  From an employer point of view, bereavement leave makes good business sense.  An employer that wants to build staff morale, build employee engagement, promote workplace wellness and earn staff loyalty has got to put their staff first so they can garner rewards later.

The Benefits of Motivation

Motivation is rather obscure isn’t it? Some days you feel it, and other days you can’t seem to get motivated at all. Well you are not alone.  If you are not feeling particularly motivated some days, you can be sure your employees are not always motivated either!

Why is workplace motivation a good thing? Motivation is a powerful energy that drives and excites employees, which results in their maximum contribution. Setting and achieving goals, clear expectations, recognition, feedback, as well as encouraging management all contribute to an increase in motivation. It flourishes in a positive work environment, which is why so many leaders want to learn new ways to motivate their workforce.  

Here are thoughts about employee motivation, what people want from work, and how you can help employees attain what they need for their work motivation.

Fair Payment

Some people work for their love of the work; others work for personal and professional fulfilment. Other people like to accomplish goals and feel as if they are contributing to something larger than themselves, something important, an overarching vision for what they can create. Some people have personal missions they accomplish through meaningful work.

Others truly love what they do or the clients they serve. Some like the camaraderie and interaction with customers and co-workers. Other people like to fill their time with activity. Some workers like change, challenge, and diverse problems to solve. As you can see, employee motivation is individual and diverse.

The bottom line is that almost everyone works for money. Whatever you call it: compensation, salary, bonuses, benefits or remuneration, money pays the bills. Money provides housing, gives children clothing and food, sends teens to college, and allows leisure activities, and eventually, retirement. Unless you are independently wealthy, you need to work to collect a pay cheque.

Motivation – why it is beneficial

Surveys and studies dating back to the early 1980s demonstrate that people want more from work than money. An early study of thousands of workers and managers by the American Psychological Association clearly demonstrated this.

Managers predicted that the most important motivational aspect of work for people they employed would be money. Instead, it turned out that personal time and attention from the manager or supervisor was cited by workers as the most rewarding and motivational for them at work.

In a “Workforce” article, “The Ten Ironies of Motivation,” reward and recognition guru, Bob Nelson, says, “More than anything else, employees want to be valued for a job well done by those they hold in high esteem.” He adds that people want to be treated as if they are adult human beings who think, makes decisions, tries to do the right thing, and don’t need a caretaker watching over their shoulders.

While what people want from work is situational, depending on the person, his needs and the rewards that are meaningful to him, giving people what they want from work is really quite straightforward. The basics are:

Control of their work inspires motivation: including such components as the ability to have an impact on decisions; setting clear and measurable goals; clear responsibility for a complete, or at least defined, task; job enrichment; tasks performed in the work itself; and recognition for achievement.

To belong to the in-crowd creates motivation: including items such as receiving timely information and communication; understanding management’s formulas for decision making; team and meeting participation opportunities; and visual documentation and posting of work progress and accomplishments.

The opportunity for growth and development is motivational: and includes education and training; career paths; team participation; succession planning; cross-training; and field trips to successful workplaces.

Leadership is key in motivation. People want clear expectations that provide a picture of the outcomes desired with goal setting and feedback and an appropriate structure or framework.

What You Can Do for Motivation and Positive Morale

You have much information about what people want from work. Key to creating a work environment that fosters motivation are the wants and needs of the individual employees. The most significant recommendation for your takeaway is that you need to start asking your employees what they want from work and whether they are getting it.

With this information in hand, you’ll be surprised at how many simple and inexpensive opportunities you have to create a motivational, desirable work environment. Pay attention to what is important to the people you employ for high motivation and positive morale. When you foster these for people, you’ll achieve awesome business success.  Celebrate wins…thank your employees for a job well done.  

Stress in the Workplace – Can you take steps to reduce it?

A new ESRI (European Working Conditions survey) study, funded by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), finds that job stress among employees in Ireland doubled from 8% in 2010 to 17% in 2015.  This is a jump of more than 50%.

The survey found that workers in Ireland were more likely to report the pressures of emotional demands and exposure to bullying, harassment and other forms of mistreatment but less likely to report time pressure than their Western European counterparts.

The study identified that job stress is more common among people experiencing high levels of the following workplace demands:

  • Emotional demands: (i.e., dealing with angry clients/customers or having to hide emotions while at work). Those experiencing high levels of emotional demands were 21 times more likely to experience job stress than those with the lowest levels.
  • Time pressure (e.g. never have enough time to get the job done, work to tight deadlines) : those with the highest levels of time pressure were ten times more likely to experience job stress than those under the least time pressure.
  • Bullying, harassment, violence, discrimination etc.: those with the highest exposure were eight times more likely to experience job stress than those with no exposure.
  • Long working hours: those working over 40 hours per week were twice as likely to experience job stress as those working 36 to 40 hours.

Employees were less likely to experience stress if they experienced support from co-workers and managers, felt that their job was useful or had a feeling of work well done. Employees in Ireland enjoy relatively high levels of support from managers and co-workers. However, these factors had less impact on levels of job stress than the demands listed earlier.

So what can employers do to support employees that maybe experiencing stress?

Workplace stress occurs “when the demands of the job and the working environment on a person exceeds their capacity to meet them”. There are varying factors which cause work related stress such as poor communications, bullying and harassment, work overload, long or unsocial hours, etc.

It goes without saying that work related stress impacts both the employee and the organisation. For the employee it can impact them physically and mentally. This may result in them calling in sick, or taking a leave of absence from work. For the employer it leads to a loss of manpower, productivity, efficiency, and customer service to name but a few.

Employers have a duty of care to employees and this is reinforced in the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005. It would be wise for employers to have a procedure in place to tackle the issue should they identify an employee experiencing such stress. This not only empowers the employer to take action to help the employee, but it also shows the employee experiencing stress and other co-workers that the company cares and that they are willing to help alleviate such stresses.

There are a number of actions which an employer can take in dealing with work-related stress. One such action is to refer an employee for an Occupational Health Assessment which will provide them with objective medical advice on the employee’s condition. Another action is to identify the causes of stress, be they working hours or workload and take steps to alleviate them. The employer can also offer the employee sick leave, annual leave or unpaid leave to take time to recover from the stress related illness.

For Support please contact mryan@righthandhr.ie or on 086 822 5448

Employee denied holiday but goes off with Stress….what could you do to avoid this??

What to do when an employee has been denied part of his holiday request due to business reasons (another employee already off) but he is now signed of with stress for 2 weeks to include holiday.  


The employee has stated that they have no one to look after the children……This is a struggle for any employer. If an employee has nobody to look after their children what on earth do we expect them to do? Leave the children on their own..?  Bring them to work with them…? I know it’s not the responsibility of the company to ensure childcare but on occasions and with the best will in the world, it is possible to be totally stuck therefore the options as a parent are limited.


In my opinion, the employee has gone down the correct route in terms of being honest and asking for the time off particularly if they know a colleague is also off at the same time, they have followed the right process. We in turn as employers should be trying to find a solution to allow him to care for his children while balancing the needs of the business.  Consider flexible working/agree to answer emails? Work from home? Shorter day etc etc – also consider ‘can you get by for two days’.
I would be asking the employee at his RTW how the situation made him feel and trying to prevent this happening again. Get everything back on an even keel and perhaps offer to support the employee in the future if childcare issues arise.

Consequences
Maybe you could look at the impact it would have had on the business for him to be off as well as his colleague, other than relying on the policy of no more than 1 person off. If he had childcare issues then he could have been granted an unpaid day off  – this would have kept him engaged, your company could have but plans in place for the days requested as he gave notice),  and there wouldn’t be any questions over whether he is ‘genuinely’ sick, no need for a RTW – saving both yours and his time and the  employee would have come back grateful and engaged rather than annoyed. He may also now claim back his holiday allowance as he has a cert for Sick Leave.


Closures Due To Adverse Weather

We were all impacted by Storm Ophelia recently. It did untold damage to property, caused chaos to the public services and as a result many businesses were forced to close.  Were you prepared!!

The following guidelines may give you a few tips for how to handle the next storm or adverse weather conditions that come our way.

When absences arise because employees are excluded from work in exceptionable circumstances such as adverse weather conditions, such as Red, Orange, or Yellow Status weather warnings, the employer reserves the right to introduce any of the following:

  • Employees take unpaid leave
  • Employees take annual leave
  • Employees work from home
  • Employees are paid for the day

Management should assess each situation on a case by case basis and take into consideration   any health and safety issues with due regard for these special circumstances.

If an employer receives adequate notice regarding such circumstances (adverse weather forecast) an action plan should be put in place and communicated to employees. If it is the decision of the Management to close the office then employees will be advised which option is being applied.

The applied action plan may be dependent on the severity and longevity of the situation that arises. In the event that the situation is short-term management may decide to pay the employee a maximum of <<number >> of days in a rolling year.

However if the employee excludes themselves (business opened and accessible) from work payment may/will not be made.

 Employees should be expected to make reasonable efforts to get into work (for example, using alternative travel arrangements).

If the employee believes that there is a health and safety risk involved they should not travel, but should contact their manager and discuss his /her situation.

Communication is the key.  Employees should be asked to notify their Manager by phone, or by some other means, as soon as possible if they have any problems getting into work and to seek clarification on the situation.

Are your Employees Engaged?

Did you know that a mere 16% of employees in Ireland are actively engaged in their work?

Gallup, a performance management company who published the report on the State of the Global Workplace found that 64% of employees in Ireland are not engaged in their work and the remaining 20% are actively disengaged. In other words, 64% of employees lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in the company’s objectives and 20% are unhappy and unproductive at work which means they are liable to spread a negative attitude to their colleagues.

Before you can solve the problem of disengagement, it’s important to understand it and learn how to recognise it.

These are the 10 most important metrics that companies need to keep in mind in order to improve employee engagement.

  • Recognition     When an employee does not receive recognition for a job well done, their desire to continue doing great work will diminish. Be sure to give constant praise, even for the little things.
  • Feedback:      Touch base with your employees frequently to let them know how they’re doing, and give them meaningful feedback on how they can do even better.
  • Happiness:  When your employees are happy at work, they will perform better. This means creating a positive work environment and making sure they feel valued.
  • Personal Growth :  Offer professional development programs to your employees to keep them motivated to grow within the company.
  • Satisfaction:  This accounts for things like workload, office environment, clarity of expectations, salary, benefits, etc. Making sure that your employees are satisfied with their experience at the company will help keep them engaged.
  • Wellness:  Offering a healthy workplace, perks such as gym access, and mental health initiatives like mindfulness programs will help keep stress at bay.
  • Ambassadorship:  Employees who would recommend their company as a place to work are much more likely to do a great job and be actively engaged. Create a positive company culture and a work space that caters to employees needs.
  • Relationship With Managers:  Relationships between employees and managers need to be based on constant communication, mutual trust and respect.
  • Relationship with colleagues:   70% of employees say friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life. When colleagues get along well, communication and workflow improve.
  • Company Alignment:   Do your employees’ values align with the mission of the company? It is very important to make sure that your team understands and respects the organisation’s values.

How can Leaders help Employees find Meaning at Work

Organizations spend considerable resources on corporate values and mission statements, but even the most inspiring of these — from Volvo’s commitment to safety to Facebook’s desire to connect people — tend to fade into the background during the daily bustle of the work day.
What workers really need, to feel engaged in and satisfied by their jobs, is an inner sense of purpose. As Deloitte found in a 2016 study, people feel loyal to companies that support their own career and life ambitions — in other words, what’s meaningful to them. And, although that research focused on millennials, in the decade I’ve spent coaching seasoned executives, I’ve found that it’s a common attitude across generations. No matter one’s level, industry or career, we all need to find a personal sense of meaning in what we do.

Leaders and Managers can foster this inner sense of purpose — what matters right now, in each individual’s life and career — with simple conversation. One technique is action identification theory, which states that there are many levels of description for any action. For example, right now I’m writing this article. At a low level, I’m typing words into a keyboard. At a high level, I’m creating better leaders. When leaders walk employees up this ladder, they can help them find meaning in even the most mundane tasks.
Regular check-ins that use five areas of inquiry are another way to help employees explore and call out their inner purpose.

Ask your employees: 

What are you good at doing?

Which work activities require less effort? What do you take on because you believe you’re the best person to do it? What have you gotten noticed for throughout your career? The idea here is to help people identify their strengths and open possibilities from there.

What do you enjoy?

In a typical workweek, what do you look forward to doing? What do you see on your calendar that energizes you? If you could design your job with no restrictions, how would you spend your time? These questions help people find or rediscover what they love about work.

What feels most useful?

Which work outcomes make you most proud? Which of your tasks are most critical to the team or organization? What are the highest priorities for your life and how does your work fit in? This line of inquiry highlights the inherent value of certain work.

What creates a sense of forward momentum?

What are you learning that you’ll use in the future? What do you envision for yourself next? How’s your work today getting you closer to what you want for yourself? The goal here is to show how today’s work helps them advance toward future goals.

How do you relate to others?

Which working partnerships are best for you? What would an office of your favourite people look like? How does your work enhance your family and social connections? These questions encourage people to think about and foster relationships that make work more meaningful.
It’s not easy to guide others toward purpose, but these strategies can help.

Article from Harvard Business Review

Retirement – Dealing with the retirement age challenge

In many countries, there is increasing pressure on employers to put in place more flexible retirement policies. This has been mainly triggered by developments in social policy, increases in state pension age (with the resulting income gap) and the potential shortfalls in occupational pension provision. These factors are leading to a greater number of requests from employees to continue working beyond their contractual retirement age and employers having to respond to these challenges.

It is important that employers review their retirement age policy to ensure that they are well positioned to deal with any challenges from employees and changes in legislation. Any retirement age policy should ideally fit in with:

  • The new statutory framework and age-discrimination legislation
  • The needs of the employer’s business in the areas of career progression, succession planning and productivity
  • Retirement income adequacy for retiring employees taking account of Company and State pensions

Employers often think that employees will have to retire when they reach the defined Normal Retirement Age under their occupational pension scheme. However this is not the case. The majority of pension schemes provide flexibility for benefits to be taken before or after Normal Retirement Age and it is essential to look more broadly at what has been communicated about retirement age within employment contracts and within employment policies that have been implemented in the past.

The new statutory framework introduced in 2016 and case law emanating from Irish courts and tribunals has made it clear that the setting of a compulsory retirement age must be objectively justified by the existence of a legitimate aim and evidence that the means of achieving that aim is appropriate and necessary. One of the consequences of the new law is that if fixed term contracts are offered post retirement, the employer will have to demonstrate evidence of objective justification for the termination of employment at the point of expiry of the fixed term contract.
Where changes are made, particular care needs to be exercised when amending the terms of pension and risk benefit plans including:

  • Reviewing the funding and cost implications of altering retirement age in defined benefit plans
  • Trying to introduce retirement flexibility while still operating within the Revenue Commissioner’s restrictive rules in terms of pension access.
  • Considering how to deal with the potential gap between the company’s retirement age and the new State pension age (which is gradually phasing to age 68).
  • Amending the terms of death and disability plans with insurers to reflect new retirement policies.

Employers should be cautious in how they approach the retirement age issue

There are many pitfalls for employers in trying to deal with retirement age and it can be a very sensitive issue for employees.

Employers need to:

  • Engage with employees as they reach the retirement window and ensure that contracts of employment specify a retirement age
  • Have an “objective justification” for any defined specific retirement age. Reasons which have been accepted by the courts in the past include succession planning, and the promotion of intergenerational fairness
  • Reserve the right to vary and review the retirement age as the needs of the business evolve and develop
  • Be careful in setting precedents where employees are allowed to work beyond a set retirement age (even if it involves offering a fixed term contract). Such practices can make it more difficult for employers to enforce their set retirement age in other cases.

Article provided by Willis Towers Watson

Tips to Consider when Introducing Performance Management

A culture of high standards can only be achieved if the company strategy, goals and objectives are shared throughout the workforce.  The company needs to provide an interactive platform for engagement and alignment for both management and employees.

Let’s look at the basics:

First thing we would recommend is making sure all job descriptions are fit for purpose and relevant for the job. Depending on the size of your organisation, line or departmental managers will play a vital role in instilling a culture of high performance throughout your organisation. Here are a few tips that we would recommend to get your company ready for performance reviews and goal setting for the rest of the year.

  • Do you currently have a policy in place in relation to performance management? If not this is something we recommend you look at. The policy should demonstrate the company’s commitment to a high performance environment throughout.
  • Set goals and targets for the company, then each department/team and then for individual staff members. By including each team member in the goal setting task this will get everyone thinking about what they want to achieve not only in terms of the company but also on a personal level. If people have a personal interest they are more likely to work harder to achieve the goals.
  • Have continuous meetings. Organisations are moving away from, what some have referred to as the bureaucratic annual performance reviews and are having weekly or monthly catch ups to make sure everyone is still working towards the same goal. We think this is a god idea and it ensures there are no surprises for either party.
    • Don’t just focus on under performers, your star players will need to be incentivised and motivated as much as an underperformer………

Having continuous and regular performance meetings with all employees is essential for the growth and sustainability of a company. By having clear targets and goals set in advance of the year ahead you will keep everyone working towards the same goals.

If you would like any support or further advice on managing performance Contact Right Hand HR and Mary will be available to support you.