Category: Human Resources

6 Ways To Make Your Meetings More Productive.

There’s no getting around it, meetings are a necessary evil.

At one point or another we are all going to have to sit down around a table with our colleagues and talk shop. But the meeting for meeting’s sake has got to be one of the biggest drains on a business’ productivity. Far from information sharing, decision making, ideas development or planning, all too often meetings can become drawn out and unproductive. Not only is this frustrating, it can cost your business money.

So, if you look at your schedule on a Monday morning and wonder how on earth you’re ever going to get any actual work done, check out our top tips for making your meetings more productive.

1. Set an agenda

Make sure you know exactly what you need to achieve, and that everyone is briefed well in advance. If one person takes responsibility for the agenda, keeps it on track and stops the tangential rambling you are far more likely to realise the meeting objectives. Set a limit for each section, leaving time for questions. And be strict. Skipping an item on the agenda is fine, adding to it is not.

2. Implement the ‘two pizza’ rule.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos developed the ‘two pizza’ strategy for successful meetings. If you can’t feed a meeting on two pizzas you have too many people in the room. Unless you have one particularly greedy person, in which case you might need to order dough balls.

3. Abolish the Monday meeting

If the reason for the meeting is little more than ‘it’s Monday!’ the meeting itself makes little sense. The problem with most small businesses is that it is these ‘posting’ meetings that become ingrained into a company’s culture, adding little tangible value. Especially against a backdrop of the post-weekend inflated inbox. Get rid of the meeting. And get on with some work.

4. Stand and deliver

Stand-up meetings tend to be quicker and more productive. Melissa Dahl of New York Magazine recently found that stand-ups can reduce meeting times by 34%. Standing up tends to eliminate distractions, but can also work to empower each speaker. When standing you naturally command more attention and can be more expressive. Also, you just want to sit down. So it’s over quicker. You lazy bunch.

5. Enjoy a change of scene.

Richard Branson likes to hold his meetings in “innovative spaces”. Unless your business has its own version of Necker Island this may not always be possible. But you could leave your desk and head to a local park. See also Nilofer Merchant’s TED talk on walking meetings. As Branson says: “a change of scenery and a bit of fun does wonders for getting people thinking differently and loosening up!” And he’s done alright for himself.

6. Tweet to meet

In ‘Drinking From the Fire Hose’ Christopher Frank, Vice President of American Express, suggests a twitter-hack for defining business objectives. If every person cannot define their meeting objectives in 140 characters then they simply don’t know why they are there. And that should raise some alarm bells.

It is tough to implement any kind of internal or cultural change in a business. But redefining your meeting rules and protocols can have a real impact on productivity and morale. So, consider the next time you are sat around the boardroom whether you need to be there and what you are really going to achieve out of it. And make sure you order that pizza.

Got to go. Got a meeting.

Gather employee feedback with these free HR survey templates

A question mark made from jigsaw piecesGathering employee feedback (be they past, future or present) can often be a difficult task, but the benefits can be very rewarding to a business and it’s objectives.

Conducting surveys can be a great way to provide employees and human resource specialists with a means to express their opinions, in return you’ll get valuable feedback that will help you make important business decisions toward improving your recruitment campaigns and internal management.

Luckily for you the hard work has already been done for you, as the clever guys at Survey Monkey have created a series of free Human Resource Survey Templates which can be used on a free account or if your require the additional benefits a pro account too.

Here’s a round up of the most useful HR Survey templates:

Job Satisfaction Survey Template
Give  employees the chance to rate their work satisfaction in this quick and easy 14-question survey. Topics covered include stress levels, salary, and leadership.

Recruiting Satisfaction Survey Template
Gather one last bit of feedback from recent employees and interviewees about their experience during the recruitment process. A simple 10-question survey which focuses on recruiter responsiveness, professionalism, helpfulness, and friendliness.

Manager Effectiveness Survey Template
Give the chance for employees to evaluate their individual managers in this 17-question survey which focuses on availability, constructive feedback, training, decision-making skills, and much more.

Department Performance Template
Take a look at the departmental structure of the company with this 14-question survey which delves into department professionalism, conflict management, communication, and much more in this 14-question survey.

And finally…

Employee Exit Template
Discover the reasons beyond an employee departure with this 21-question survey which asks about experiences with leadership, working environment, and team members.

A few things to remember

  1. Utilise Anonymity. If you want to gain the most insight, you’ll want to ensure employees that their feedback is completely safe.
  2. Follow the surveys up. When employees see that their opinions matter, they’ll be more likely to continue providing valuable feedback. Gather your employees together and give them a presentation to show what knowledge has been gained, and what’s being done with the survey results.
  3. Converse in Layman’s Terms. Avoid over using technical language and keep your employee survey questions light and casual otherwise participants may be reluctant to complete them.

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    Increase staff morale with these top 5 employment benefits

    A pile of cashAs the old adage goes “A happy workforce is a productive workforce”, people who work for a company which supports them reciprocate with increased output, enthusiasm and devotiveness i.e. they go the extra mile. One way to increase staff morale is to provide them with employment benefits, often referred to as “perks of the job” these come in an variety of forms and help to ensure an individuals economic security, thus increasing happiness. So with that in mind here is a roundup of the most popular staff benefits which are commonly offered by employers…


    Providing staff with insurance offers peace of mind and can help to increase their personal security. There are several types of  insurance an employer can provide their staff with including health, dental and life. The business benefits of providing health insurance include include reduced sickness related absence, increased productivity and improved employee morale

    Retirement Pension Funds

    Employers can setup a trust fund which they contribute to and then when you retire the scheme will pay you a pension based on rules set out by the scheme. The rules may include: the number of years you’ve been a member of the scheme,  your pensionable earnings i.e your salary at retirement and the proportion of those earnings you receive as a pension for each year of membership.

    Gym Membership

    Providing employees with free or reduced price gym membership can help to make something regarded as a luxury by some people accesible and affordable. This also provides employers the benefit of promoting staff fitness and wellbeing, which is known to increase engagement and motivation.

    Profit Sharing

    Although some may detest otherwise everybody loves money, therefore, when a company sets up a profit sharing scheme it can help to a) attract and b) keep talented individuals. The concept is simple… a company will designate a percentage of  their annual profits as a pool of money to share with employees. This pool of money is then divided amongst the employees using a set formula. Some individuals may decide to forget about this extra money and invest it further into stocks, bonds, savings accounts which could turn into a nice little nest egg one day. However, one thing to regard is that this type of benefit tends to work best in organisations where profit is the principal focus. And finally a bizarre example courtesy of google…

    Death Benefits

    Yes you read that right Death Benefits! An article by highlights What Happens To Google Employees When They Die the article states “Should a U.S. Google employee pass away whilst under the employment of the search giant, their surviving spouse or domestic partner will receive a cheque for 50% of their salary every year for the next decade. There is no tenure requirement for this benefit, thus most of  Google 34,000 employees qualify. In addition to this generosity, surviving spouses will also see all stocks vested immediately and any children will receive a $1,000 monthly payment from the company until they reach the age of 19 (or 23 if the child is a full-time student).

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      What Skills Does a Human Resource Manager Require?

      A human resources manager conducting an interviewNearly every company has some form of human resources management in place but not everyone knows about the talented individuals who put these important business operations into effect. This post is an attempt to uncover the skills required for the role of a human resources manager.

      Human resources has existed since the times of The Ancient Chinese  and is still present in some shape or form within every company in the world, in most cases through an internal department or in some cases it can be outsourced via an external service provider. The fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to just how important a process it really is within a successful company.

      In order to be efficient at what they do human resources managers are required to possess a number of skills, including the following:

      • Organisation – Candidates or colleagues may call up to request a C.V. or personnel file, therefore the ability to retrieve information on demand and quickly is an important skill. This can be achieved by ensuring that files and folders are organised effectively both tangible and digitally.
      • Multi-tasking/Time Management – We all know ‘time is money’ and this is certainly true within the workplace. Few human resources managers spend their days focusing on one task and the ability to quickly and efficiently switch between tasks is a must have skill.
      • Planning – From drafting the job spec to designing and placing a job advert right through to candidate vetting/interviewing a recruitment campaign can last for weeks if not months. Therefore, some form of plan must be created and adhered to in order for the whole process to run smoothly and without hitches.
      • Communication – HR Managers need to have an approachable and friendly manner, continual contact will need to be kept with clients and candidates to keep them updated, therefore professional telephone and email skills are a valuable trait.
      • Interviewing – Once applications start to arrive candidates will need to be interviewed. In some organisations it’s quite possible this task could fall under the responsibility of the HR manager,  this could initially be a telephone interview or proceed straight to a face to face interview. The ability to gain a good understanding of the job role in question is an important skill required of a HR manager, this will ensure the right questions are asked in the interview and it will also help to access if the answers are appropriate.

      In a future article we’ll be taking a deeper look into the actual role of a human resources manager, covering a typical day in the life. Watch this space…

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        Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games recruitment campaign gets off to flying start

        A recent article written by the bbc reports that after only one day of a planned recruitment drive for the commonwealth games in Glasgow 2014, a staggering 10,000 people have volunteered themselves for positions. Organisers are looking for 15,000 in total but if the first day was anything to go buy they shouldn’t have many problems finding the extra 5,000!

        Some of the roles available include welcoming athletes, helping out at the athletes’ village and at the games venues, there are also roles available for people with specialist skills, including medical staff, drivers and those with specific sports expertise.

        In such times of austerity it’s great to see the enthusiasm being shown by the people of Glasgow and beyond to contribute for the greater good of the UK.

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          UK Unemployment Figure Drops By a massive 49,000

          Whilst the rewards reaped by their colleagues in the banking industry recent  may have been the subject of much speculation, its fair to say that if stats are anything to go by then the staff in the recruitment industry have certainly earnt their bonuses this year! Recent figures released by the office for national statistics indicate that the employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for July to September 2012 was 71.2 per cent, up 0.2 from April to June 2012. There were 29.58 million people in employment aged 16 and over, up 100,000 from April to June 2012. Looks like someone must of been doing something right hey?

          The finding also highlighted the facts that the UK unemployment rate for July to September 2012 was 7.8% of the economically active population, down 0.2% from April to June 2012. In total there were 2.51 million unemployed people, down a whopping 49,000 from April to June 2012.

          The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for July to September 2012 was 22.6 per cent, down 0.1 from April to June 2012. There were 9.07 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, down 25,000 from April to June 2012.

          If only pay figures were in correlation with these figures, because between July to September 2011 and July to September 2012, total pay (including bonuses) rose by 1.8 per cent and regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.9 per cent.

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            2012 – Year of the placement!

            Trying to find a job after leaving University is getting tougher and tougher as 1 in 5 graduates struggle to find a job. One of the most effective ways to gain employment is gaining some valuable industry experience.

            Employers are finding that graduates who have taken a years industry placement have better employable skills compared to those who have spent a year travelling or those who have completed a straight degree course,

            Business leaders are also increasingly favouring graduates who have completed a years industry placement over those who have no industry experience.

            Placements allow you to get a step ahead on the graduate career ladder

            Work placements are normally structured programmes or schemes where students spend an entire academic year working for an organisation as a full-time member of staff before returning to university for the final year.

            This provides undergraduates with the opportunity to gain all-important work experience and employability skills before graduating. It can also give students a clearer idea about which career path to follow after university. These placements have a huge motivational effect on students and many companies view the placement as a year-long ‘interview’.

            Many students make such an impression that they are offered a permanent job on graduation.

            Graduates should seriously consider applying for placement opportunities to enhance their chances for future employment.

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              UK ranks fourth internationally for creating a diverse and inclusive workforce

              Good news for us brits, new research reveals that The UK has been ranked fourth internationally for creating a diverse and inclusive workforce.

              The research, which is highlighted in CEB’s study ‘Creating Competitive Advantage Through Workforce Diversity’ goes on to reveal that nearly 63% of UK employees stated that their employers are actively promoting workplace diversity through a series of relevant policies and programmes.

              However, the research also identified an aging workforce as a particular challenge to diversity in both the UK and US markets. It suggested there is a need for businesses in these markets to develop and implement diversity policies which address the needs of older employers in order to effectively create a more diverse workforce.

              The previous statement may have to be taken with a pinch of salt though as these findings, contradict current UK economic trends which have seen employers favouring older, more experienced employees ahead of younger new recruits. This is coupled with changes to the pension age which has increased over the past year and will continue to do so until 2020.

              The discrepancies between the data and current policy and trends indicate that employers are challenged with a tough task of balancing business needs against the practical needs of an increasingly diverse and ageing workforce.

              Chris Ellehuus, managing director of CEB, said: “It is encouraging to see UK business lead the way in promoting policies for diversity but they now need to refocus on business solutions concerned with each diversity need. Organisations must recognise that not every need is a global problem – while an aging workforce is a UK challenge, attracting women to business is more prevalent in China – and as such, regional variations must be considered, particularly within global businesses.

              “The changes required to create a truly diverse and productive workforce need to extend beyond regulation and be placed within the core of the business, from the recruitment process to the overall business objectives.

              “Our members have also identified organisational barriers to building diversity which needs to be considered, one being a lack of common objectives between promoting diversity and the overall business objectives. They also suggest that there is often a lack of commitment from business leaders to address diversity issues which can severely hinder the creation of more diverse organisations.

              “Our research, however, found that recruiting from a diverse talent pool increases an individual employee’s discretionary effort and their commitment to the business. As such, business leaders need to ensure that relevant local objectives form a part of the overall business plan in order to successfully create a diverse workforce that is mutually beneficial to both diversification and the overarching business needs.”

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                Pay award increases of 2.5% predicted for 2013

                A recent survey conducted by XpertHR Pay and Benefits predicts that 7 pay awards out of 10 next year are likely to be worth between 2% and 3%. The survey goes on to reveal an analysis of the current pay settlements landscape, concluding that in the 3 months leading upto the end of September 2012, the whole economy median pay award figure fell from 2.4% (previous quarter) to 2%. The falling figure was not only caused by continual freezes and low pay awards in the public sector, but also by a weakness in private sector awards – the median pay award in the private sector fell from 2.5% to 2.3%.

                Other useful findings from the survey include:

                • The median pay increase in 2013 is forecast to be 2.5%.
                • Pay awards are expected to be tightly bunched around the median, with 7/10 of all pay awards in 2013 likely to be worth between 2% and 3%.
                • A higher increase – 3% is expected for manufacturing and production firms, compared to companies in the services sector – at 2.4%.
                • Pay freezes are predicted to account for less than 10% of all pay awards.

                XpertHR Pay and Benefits editor Sheila Attwood said:

                “Our latest data shows a small dip in the level of pay awards, while the predicted 2.5% pay increase in the year ahead demonstrates continued caution on behalf of employers, who will again primarily assess company performance and their ability to pay when setting their pay award budget. Employers are also looking at how they can attract and retain employees in the current climate – from keeping an eye on competitors’ pay rates to being creative with their reward budget.

                Be sure to read the full report for further 2013 pay award findings.

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                  Recruitment stats for summer 2012

                  Evenbase a global digital recruitment group have released their quarterly recruitment report which reveals some interested facts…

                  The fact that caught our eye the most is that the average number of vacancies advertised has risen from 5.7 to 7.7 per business since the previous quarter, which is a welcoming increase considering the recent economic climate.

                  Another noteworthy fact is that 70% of all vacancies were advertised online which just adds even more fuel to the benefits of online recruitment fire.

                  However, despite the positive start, the report also highlights that 43% of jobseekers think that their job situation is worse than it was a year ago. One factor towards this downturn in attitude could be the fact that most companies aren’t focussing on growth, more so survival at the moment which in turn causes a lack of internal promotion prospects.

                  Interestingly for all the social media fans out there – job boards still remain businesses’ number one method for finding staff.

                  But that’s not all the findings, so be sure to check out the full recruitment report (.pdf download)

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