Tips on “Getting Your Employees Productive from Day One”

What your new employee sees, hears, learns and feels on this first day of work – and the days and weeks that follow – will form the foundation of their employee experience, so it’s important that none of it be left to chance.


Welcoming a new employee into your company is always a happy occasion. After all of the phone conversations, interviews, background checks and other formalities, it feels really good to know that you’ve found someone who fits the job perfectly. Now your attention turns to their first day of work, and you’re eager to get them up and running as soon as possible – just as they’re eager to learn the ropes and begin making meaningful contributions.

 On boarding doesn’t have to mean Boring

 On boarding programs run the gamut in terms of what they include, how comprehensive they are, and ultimately how effective they are in getting your new employees up to speed quickly. In today’s fast paced, digitally savvy and highly visual society, there is no reason why the on boarding process has to reflect the antiquated HR practices of the 1970s. While some organizations remain satisfied with having the individual sit for two hours with a stack of papers waiting in front of them, those who have embraced the new standards of online and mobile for consuming information are reaping the benefits. A 2011 survey by McKinsey found that the penetration rate for online video across PCs, mobile and tablets by those aged 13-34 was 85%1. By creating a richer experience, these companies have seized the opportunity to make a powerful and positive first impression on new hires – making them feel even more welcome and valued.

 First Impressions Last a Lifetime

 For the new and nervous employee, the on boarding program is their first glimpse into your working world and how much you value your workforce, and should act as a validation that they made the right choice in joining your organization. These impressions will fast become opinions about the company, its brand, and its values, and can be the difference between them showing mild interest and enthusiastic engagement for the first few weeks. So what can you do to decrease the time-to-productivity ratio for new hires, minimize the risk and cost of early departures, and ignite a fire in them that will hopefully continue to burn for years to come? Here are a few best practices to consider:

1. Orient Them before the First Day of Work

Above and beyond what your new hire may have learned about your organization in preparation for their interviews, it’s always helpful for them to learn even more about your company. Using online video can be an impressive and enjoyable way to introduce your company story, the leadership team (a welcome message from the CEO is always a nice touch), the organizational structure, and your mission, vision and values.

2. Train Them to Fit, Not Just Perform

 Perhaps not surprisingly, a large number of new employees don’t work out because they don’t fit the company culture – not because they aren’t performing to expectations. If your recruitment and hiring process emphasizes fit (and it should) – and not just skills or experience – then training them to fit well into your organization should be an easier task.  A good on boarding program should help the new hire to make the best use of their time, and give them the tools to navigate and learn not only the major aspects of the job, but also the subtleties and nuances that are equally as important. Instil in them the need to ask lots of questions, and the right kind from the right people. To deepen their understanding, encourage them to ask ‘why’ and not just ‘what’, and develop in them a hunger to learn and to do well. Company management should also be leading by example and mirroring the desired behaviour that you want to see in your new employees.

3. Communicate Often and Check In Frequently

Many organizations take off the training wheels for new hires much too early, only to realize they are veering off course soon after by not learning quickly enough, focusing on the wrong tasks, or not building relationships. As part of your on boarding program, set expectations with your new employees that they are to check-in with their managers for 15 minutes each day for the first two weeks. Scheduling these discussions will allow managers to ensure that the employee is connecting the right dots and learning at the right speed, and will reinforce with your new employees that the company is listening, and cares about their success.

4. Assign a Mentor to Guide Them

 The first few weeks are stressful times for new employees as they set out to learn their new jobs and begin to meet performance expectations. It’s not always a smooth road to travel however, and sometimes having the supportive and empathetic ear of a colleague can make all the difference in the world. On their first day of work, introduce them to a mentor – not their manager, but ideally a more established employee who has successfully completed the on boarding process in the not too distant past, and can be ally to turn to for questions, advice and feedback. Watching videos of current employees talk about what helped them to succeed early on will also act as a great motivational tool.

5. Don’t Play ‘Sink or Swim’

 For those organizations with sparse or no on boarding program at all, the new employee is often left to their own devices to take their job description and somehow begin to make an impact. In these situations, the likelihood is quite high that the on boarding program will not be successful, and the employee will either be let go or voluntary resign soon after – forcing the company to begin the hiring cycle all over again.

Set clear objectives and milestones to reach at regular intervals, as well as recapping what they should have learned up to that point in time. Once again, creating online videos for them to watch will help them to understand their performance objectives, and assist with their continued engagement, learning and training.

Please contact Mary on 086 8225448 for support with on boarding programmes.

Information provided by


Enhance Employee Engagement in 4 Easy Steps

HR Nugget – Enhance Employee Engagement in 4 Easy Steps – August 2014

Every month we will send you a useful nugget of information that takes only two – three minutes to read. At the bottom of this page, you can share this nugget with others. We hope you enjoy our HR Nuggets and find them useful.

employee engagement

The Problem:
According to Gallup, 70% of US employees are disengaged. This statistic would be in line with stats in Ireland.  Low engagement means decreased productivity, low morale, and high turnover. The worst part is that Gallup estimates 18% of all US employees are actively disengaged. These actively disengaged employees work against your company’s interests, negatively influence co-workers, have high absenteeism, and fail to meet customer needs. If your business cannot afford to support disengaged employees and potentially squander thousands of euros annually per employee, keep reading.

The Question:
What if you could measure your staff engagement and set course to get your teams back on track (for less than you are losing through inaction), would you? According to a 2014 report “engaged employees are 57% more effective and 87% less likely to leave your company.” One of the primary drivers of employee disengagement is not feeling valued in the workplace. When employees don’t feel valued and included on the job, they stop caring about their work.

  • Does your staff feel valued?
  • When was the last time you asked all of them how engaged they feel?
  • Have you checked morale?
  • Have you ever considered running an employee engagement survey? 

Don’t wait until the exit interview to find out how employees feel and what could make the workplace more engaging. You run the risk of losing even your most engaged employees if you don’t check in regularly.

The Solution:
Start asking questions. Get a baseline read on where your employees stand. This can be a formal or an informal survey, focus groups, or lunches with leaders depending on what level of specificity and statistical validity you want. Right Hand HR  offers personalized surveys that you can compare and quantify year over year. You don’t need experts and analysts to ask questions for you unless trust has been eroded within the organization, or unless you really want an objective outside view.

On occasion, a third party assessment is a good idea:

  1. Clearly define the type of organizational culture you want — and support it from the top. Have a meaningful vision that people understand.
  2. Hold people accountable. This is key. Your plan is useless if there is no follow through.
  3. Create rewards for compliance and excellent performance, and consequences for inaction or defiance. Accountability builds trust. If people feel safe and understand what is expected, they are more likely to perform their best.
  4. Measure your progress over time and reassess at regular intervals. Become a learning organization and prioritize improvement. Don’t be afraid of failure. Learn from mistakes by failing forward.

Right Hand HR  can help you address employee issues and get your teams working in high gear. Call us today and let us show you how we can solve your most persistent organizational challenges.

How to Manage Holiday Requests


 Everybody wants time off in the summer or at Christmas – it’s an age-old problem. This is compounded by some staff that save up their holiday entitlement to disappear for weeks at a time. Naturally, you need to manage these multiple requests so that your company is able to operate, but also so that dissatisfaction doesn’t set it.

 Refusing people their paid leave simply because you have not planned or foreseen their requests is bad management and leaves you having to do the inevitable and make subjective judgement about who can and cannot have their leave. This, of course, generates a certain amount of ill-will when emotions are running high.

Being Positive 

Holiday entitlement, and extra days off, form some of the perks that you can give employees as an added bonus, so instead of waiting for the holiday period to hit you, why not design a strategy that offers time-off at peak holiday time in a measured way?

Knowing that summer and Christmas are hot spot for time off discuss and plan the potential requests well in advance.  Planning this time way ahead is a key. It allows employees to participate (up to a point) and it also prevents certain people feeling disappointed later on.

The Traditional Request Form 

The best thing that you can do to help manage the employees’ time off is to have each employee fill out a request form some time before they need it.  Request forms the best way to keep track of who is taking off and when they are taking the time off to give your company a measure of control. This also allows you to monitor which people appear to be building up large amounts of unused leave which could cause you staffing problems when taken later on — or all in one go.

When it comes to key dates or holiday hot spots, you can introduce a ‘bartering’ scheme so that employees take it upon themselves to make sure your company has enough staff during the time they want to take off. Such things do, of course, happen informally, but having it as a part of your company culture confers employees with a sense of control and responsibility. It also makes the system a little more democratic.

Rewards and Perks 

Additionally, having prime-time days off can be offered as a perk or a reward to high achievers, or those who may have made sacrifices earlier in the years — such as staying later or taking pay cuts when the company is struggling.

In Summary

Just looking at requests for leave as a reactive policy is not going to please anyone. You need to look at your business cycle and staffing requirements. In a multicultural workforce, you also need to consider staff availability in view of differing religious calendars.

 Set expectations early. Review your company or department’s strategic plans for the year and then make everyone aware of critical dates where employees cannot be absent.

This early warning also encourages employees to use some of their leave rather than building it up. Do all of the above and set a good example not taking hot-spot time off yourself, and you’ll create an acceptance of the need to regulate or diffuse multiple leave requests.

HR Nugget – Getting a Job is Hard Work

Every month we will send you a useful nugget of information that takes only two – three minutes to read. At the bottom of this page, you can share this subscription with others or unsubscribe yourself. We hope you enjoy our HR Nuggets and find them useful.

Getting a Job is Hard Work

Getting a Job is Hard Work Many people who apply for jobs but don’t get them assume there was some external force acting against them; they think the interviewer didn’t like them, or that they were over-qualified. That may be true in some cases, but more often than not it’s down to one of the following 4 pitfalls that are so easy to avoid.

1. Your CV needs work Over 90% of CVs are not up to scratch. Too wordy, too boring, too untidy, or just too many errors. People can still get jobs with poor CVs, but why not make it world class? All the resources to do this are at your disposal. You can ask for as much help as possible, but it takes time, hard work and application. If I could give you one piece of advice, above and beyond having no spelling mistakes, it would be to tell them what you do well rather than just what you do. As the reader of a CV, all I need to know is if you are good, not how much you’ve done.

2. You need to do the work Sending a CV to a company or a recruitment agency saying: “here is my CV, can you find me a job?” just will not work. If you are not directly applying for a specific job, your CV could easily get lost in the crowd. Know what you want to do; if you don’t, get career guidance before you look for a job. Apply for specific jobs relevant to what you want and then follow up with a phone call. No one can work harder in getting you a job than you. Own as much of the process as you can. On top of this, realise that over 50% of jobs are not advertised so network with friends and colleagues to try and hear about opportunities.

3. No interview preparation Most people don’t like interviews but that is no excuse for not practicing. Have you mastered anything without planning and practice? Most of the questions can be predicted – ‘talk me through your cv’, ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’, ‘how would others describe you?’, ‘why do you want to work here?’, ‘do you have any questions for us?’. Prepare, not just to yourself but in front of a mirror, or recording yourself on your phone. Practice helps enormously, but most people don’t want to put in the time and effort.

4. Attitude and enthusiasm We all like enthusiastic people, we are even more likely to forgive them more and give them a second chance. Companies also love people who come across as motivated and enthusiastic about the job. No matter how you feel at the beginning of the day, make sure you go into the interview with a positive frame of mind. You would be amazed how quickly you can do this. For some people it can be thinking of a great memory, a son or daughter, or a picture they have on their wall. For others it’s exercise or a beach walk – but do whatever you need to do to ensure that when you walk into that room you are at your best.

Getting a job is hard work. Put in the time and effort and do everything you can to get that job, no matter what gets in your way. If you need help, contact Mary

HR Nugget – Tips in How to Select the Right Candidate for the Role

Every month we will send you a useful nugget of information that takes only two – three minutes to read. At the bottom of this page, you can share this subscription with others or unsubscribe yourself. We hope you enjoy our HR Nuggets and find them useful.

The single most important decision for managers is selecting the right employee for the right job. Selecting the right employee doesn’t just happen; it takes preparation, thought and work.
Recruiting can often be a hard and drawn out process and choosing the ideal candidate for a position in your company can often be a challenging process.

Taking the time to make sure the right employee is in the job has a direct effect on business performance and staff turn around.

Here are some tips to guide you through the process of finding the right candidate for your vacancy:

  1. Have a clear view of the specific job.
  2. Good interviewing is about being focussed, listening and verifying your thoughts. Study and write out questions specifically aimed at uncovering the presence of those characteristics for the ideal fit to the role – competency based interviews or CBI’s are becoming a common route to determining such attributes.
  3. Start the interview with less demanding questions and build up to the more pressured ones.  This helps put the candidate at ease and allows you to ask more probing questions later.
  4. Move past what’s on paper and don’t let a glowing CV lower your guard. Just because a candidate has the experience to set them apart from other applicants doesn’t necessarily mean they have the on the job skills.
  5. It is helpful to have a second opinion. Have a member of your team sit in on the interview. Very often they may have picked up on something you have not.
  6. Follow up on supplied references. This is often brushed aside however it is an important step. Star candidates have been known to supply references of previous employers who have fired them!!
  7. Listen to your instincts. As people we feel a certain chemistry in any new relationship and this new “manager/employee” relationship is also subject to those gut instincts.
  8. Consider company culture. While it is important to find a candidate who fits perfectly into a position it is equally important they fit the culture of the company. Your candidates are living, breathing people – focus on getting to know them in more ways than one.
  9. Finally remember the candidate may not be applying to your role exclusively – If the right candidate comes along do not procrastinate and offer them the role.

How can you Champion Innovation in the Workplace?

HR Nugget – April 2014

Every month we will send you a useful nugget of information that takes only two – three minutes to read. At the bottom of this page, you can share this subscription with others or unsubscribe yourself. We hope you enjoy our HR Nuggets and find them useful.

How can you Champion Innovation in the Workplace?

Give the gift of time:

Time is what we never seem to have enough of, but we could do worse that to give staff back this precious commodity.  If we are always racing to get things done, we are not going to be able to hear ourselves think and then we miss those golden nuggets that can come to us when we are not expecting them.  Google have given their employees up to 20% of work time to come up with these innovative ideas, which reportedly led to Gmail.  Other companies offer employees up to two weeks off to pursue projects outside of their normal work responsibilities.

Lose the clean desk policy:

Create the environment to get those creative juices flowing.  Google leads the way in this by creating creativity rooms/space and by setting aside that clean desk policy.  A recent study last year at the University of Minnesota, found an independent panel,  judged ideas derived from peoples cluttered workstations more “interesting and worthy of development” than those that came about then people had been grouped together in an empty room to brainstorm.

 Get close to customers:

Listen to what your customers are saying. Customers are paying for a service and often tell you what they like and don’t like.  Be open to listening to your customers and capture the ideas that come along.  Smart supermarkets made a note of what customers requested so that they could capture potential trends and so were ahead of their competitors. Harley Davidson cite an example of where they listened to what the customers wanted and implemented the ideas saving up to three years on the design of the bikes and sales rose by 15.5%.

 Make Innovation pay:

Innovations hates structure, but HR can help it by embedding and communicating reward and recognition programmes to encourage bright ideas. There are lots of examples for schemes that work and encourage innovation. Not all ideas put forward will be profitable for the company; however reward those employees where their ideas are used.

The very best HR programmes will encourage innovative ideas from staff, by offering them a profit share on those implemented. Don’t miss out on opportunities to hear what your staff has to say….we can often miss those new bright ideas.

Capture the best ideas:

The company website is a great place to allow staff to post ideas, comment on ideas and make suggestions. Another way is to see how things are at the coalface, and mix with employees and often great ideas come out of this.

Source; People Management February 2014



Benefits of Mentoring

Benefits of Mentoring  – New Employees

Research has revealed up to 25% of new HR hires are lost within the first 12 months.  One of the key findings of the research was that the integration of new hires is often unsuccessful. Hiring costs is very expensive and depending on the role could cost an organisation up to 30% of the new recruits 1st year’s salary.  That is why an external mentoring scheme would help candidates during their first 100 days as this would ensure that the   candidates don’t feel abandoned in their new roles.

The mentor and mentee get together to forge a relationship that can last much longer that the critical 1st 100 days in the new position.


What are the benefits for the mentors and mentees?

Mentors from outside the organisation are able to offer neutral feedback and enable someone to appreciate situations from another point of view. For a mentee, it’s someone to share your challenges with and bounce ideas off. Equally, the mentor can be independent and ask frank questions about the scenarios you’re faced with. As a mentor, it’s rewarding to share the experiences of another person and see them develop and grow. Learning, professional growth and personal development all dovetail with what the HR profession is all about.

With the right mentor the mentee can really benefit in terms of acting as a sounding board outside the mentee’s current organisation, guiding the individual in his/her professional development and supporting the individual to really become a champion into the organisation. It  works well for people who are new to a job or position and need some guidance to find their way more quickly and painlessly, e.g. A mentor might make some introductions to key people or resources, and guide their mentee onto the right track.

Right Hand HR in conjunction with DPR Associates offers a tried and proven mentoring programme and would be happy to talk to you about this.


HR Nugget – Dealing with Sickness Absence

Every month we will send you a useful nugget of information that takes only two – three minutes to read. We hope you enjoy our HR Nuggets and find them useful.

 Dealing with Sickness Absence

Sick leave costs Irish employees hundreds of thousands of euro each year.  The cost is not only financial costs, but also the disruption to the business and the amount of management time consumed on managing sick leave is significant.

In this month’s Nugget Right Hand HR give you a number of top tips for dealing with sickness absence.  These include:

  • Have a written sickness policy – Documentation is very important and is the first thing an employer should refer to as this ensures all employees are dealt with in a fair and systematic manner.  If you do not have a policy right Hand HR can support you with this.
  • Keep in touch with employee during sick leave – The employer still has obligations to employee while on sick leave.
  •  Obtain regular updates on the employee’s medical condition.
  • Keep records – this is crucial.  Make a note of when you contacted the employee and what the employee told you.
  • Conduct return to work interviews – these can be informal but ensure in all cases that the policy is applied consistently to all employees.  This does not mean that common sense cannot be applied.
  • Don’t terminate unless you have engaged.

Make sure you have the facts
Make sure the employee is aware that you are considering termination
Give the employee a chance to respond to any decision the company may be taking.

There is lots of evidence of case law where employees have successful won cases they have taken against their employer.  The key for the employer is that the Sick Leave Policy is applied consistently and that the employees are aware of the policy.   Employees can take a case under many of the Acts such as the Disability Act.

If you want more information please contact Mary.


Workplace Mediation Tips

HR Nugget  –  February  2014
Every month we will send you a useful nugget of information that takes only two – three minutes to read. At the bottom of this page, you can share this subscription with others or unsubscribe yourself. We hope you enjoy our HR Nuggets and find them useful.

 Workplace Mediation Tips

Workplace mediation is becoming more widely used as a means for resolving conflict.  Mediation provides an opportunity for those involved to address the issues, explore options and reach a workable outcome through a mutually agreeable course of action.

The advantage of using workplace mediation is that it allows a problem to be resolved informally, by ensuring that all sides are heard.  The process also means that participants are involved in finding an agreed solution as they work together to solve the problem.

Conflict in any organisation can do enormous damage. Mistakenly, disputes are often left to fester and thereby become more difficult to resolve.

Here are some tips for workplaces to boost the chances of a successful mediation:

  •  Address situations early, as unresolved conflict is highly damaging for businesses
  •  Give a clear outline of how the mediation will work so parties understand their role
  •  Meditations can take several days so allow time and space for the mediation to work If  decisions need to be made, involve someone with the authority to make them
  • Engage external support early if needed, to reduce the toll on all workers
  • Don’t rush the process; the pre-meetings/interviews are just as critical as the mediation itself
  • Make sure all parties understand the need for confidentiality

I recommend you only use the mediation process with a qualified mediator, which Right Hand HR can offer.  If you want more information please contact Mary.


HR Nugget – Training – Mentoring – Coaching – What is the difference?

HR Nugget  –  January 2014

Every month we will send you a useful nugget of information that takes only two – three minutes to read. At the bottom of this page, you can share this subscription with others or unsubscribe yourself. We hope you enjoy our HR Nuggets and find them useful.

Training – Mentoring – Coaching – What is the difference? 


Simply put, the main difference is in how directive the method is.

Training tells people what to do, it’s a “Here’s how you do it” approach that works well for technical things and hard skills, where there is literally only one right way of doing it, e.g. you follow steps 1 – 24 exactly to assemble the machine or it won’t work!

Mentoring guides and advises, it’s a “Have you tried this way?” approach that works well for people who are new to a job or position and need some guidance to find their way more quickly and painlessly, e.g. A mentor might make some introductions to key people or resources, guide their mentee onto the right track.

Coaching empowers by asking the right questions, it’s a “You know the solution” approach that works well for soft skills and confidence building, where personality plays a big role and what works for one person might not work for another, e.g. a coach might enable the coachee to see things from different perspectives and thus find a solution.

Coaching needs to be done by a professional who has a background in executive coaching, proper training and years of experience, whereas training and mentoring can be done by senior employees for their juniors after a basic “train the trainer” or “introduction to mentoring skills” workshop (we can offer these for you).

If you want more information please contact Mary or Diarmuid.

Right Hand HR in conjunction with DPR Associates  offers a unique approach to coaching.  We address employee engagement and leadership issues and offer training programmes to suit your needs.