Our Blog

3 ways in which schools hammer working mothers
28th November 2017 - 09:00
For many people balancing the demands of work and family is an ongoing challenge. Very often it’s the working mum who has to juggle things and when it comes to balancing work, family and school things can get very tricky indeed. Below we describe three of the ways in which schools add to a mother’s burdens.
  • In many families siblings attend different schools, each with the same start and finish times, and often some distance apart. For some lucky mums that isn’t a problem, they can call on friends or relatives to drop off and pick up at least one of the children. But mums who don’t have that luxury face the daily challenge of being in two places at once. On top of that they have to fight their way through heavy traffic and cope with the road rage of other mothers who are also trying to get their children to school on time. So we shouldn’t really be surprised when our working mums arrive at their desks feeling highly stressed.
  • And then there are the five inset days during which schools are closed for teacher development. Let’s say our poor mum has two children at different schools, and no friends or relatives to call on. She must now either find and pay a childminder to look after the children, or take 10 days out of her own well-earned holiday allowance.
  • And then, as if adding insult to injury, the schools invite our mum to join her children in their assemblies or watch them perform in a school play. All very well meaning, no doubt, but what they fail to recognise is that when they invite our poor mum to school during working hours she’s got to do yet more juggling. And when she simply can’t get out of a work commitment she’s taken to task by her disappointed child who is quick to point out that her friend’s mum is always there. How does this make our poor mum feel? She can’t help but feel she’s letting her child down. It all adds to the stress.
  • Not only can this stress affect a mother’s wellbeing, it can also impact her family and work. Neither schools nor the government appear willing to sweep these practices away so is there anything that employers can do to help? What would your working mums say?
    Employee feedback – does it deliver value?
    21st November 2017 - 12:00
    An increasing number of organisations are introducing always-on employee feedback platforms. They enable employees to provide feedback how and when they want, using web and mobile channels. They take much of the hassle out of surveying, and enable businesses to ask any number of questions, tune into employee views and address key issues. The big question, is do they deliver value?
    The answer is yes provided we avoid the ‘more is always better’ trap, and instead focus on generating quality rather than quantity, and then acting on it. In broad terms that means two things:
  • Designing systems which help and encourage people to give actionable feedback in a safe environment, and shifting the emphasis from closed to open questions in order to start constructive dialogues about the issues that matter.
  • Empowering managers to act on the feedback. Real-time systems, like any survey systems, are counterproductive if nothing happens with the feedback.
  • Providing the real-time data is rich, contextual, and constructive, and managers act on it, always-on feedback should deliver real value which helps to engage people and drive business performance.
    Employee Voice
    10th November 2017 - 13:00
    The MacLeod Report (perhaps the most important study of engagement ever undertaken in the UK), identified employee voice as one of the four enablers of employee engagement. What is employee voice?
    According to the report, employee voice exists where an organisation has put mechanisms in place which enable it to have an ongoing conversation with its people so that everyone in the organisation feels they can have a say, that their voice is heard and listened to, and their views taken into account.
    In this environment people are involved and actively invited to contribute their experience, expertise and ideas.
    Some tips on getting started with always-on feedback
    09th October 2017 - 11:00
    Always-on platforms are powerful feedback tools which take the hassle out of surveying. They don’t need to be overly complex and a good supplier can set one up quickly and host and maintain it to avoid any demands on in-house IT teams. The challenge in making it a success is seldom technical. It’s more about how you introduce it and embed it in the business in a way that encourages employees to use it and managers to have confidence that it adds real value. Here are a few tips on how you can get an always-on feedback process up and running in your business.
    Start off positive
    One of the concerns about introducing an always-on platform is that the first people to respond may well be those with an axe to grind. One way to avoid that is to start off with a topical issue and invite feedback from a specific group. Focus on eliciting ideas and suggestions rather than presenting them with a set of closed questions.
    Keep it simple
    Managers new to always-on feedback sometimes see it as a mini version of a full-scale survey. Perhaps it’s better to see it as an opportunity to start a series of mini conversations on different topical issues. Keep each set of questions short and simple, and the tone informal.
    Make it frequent
    Always-on lends itself to lots of mini feedback projects. Think of all the questions you could ask. Get feedback from a specific location or function, or from people who’ve attended a training course. Use it to run exit and on-boarding surveys. Create a project plan which sets out all the mini feedback projects you want to run.
    Be proactive
    Don’t just put a link on your intranet and wait for people to respond. Ask them directly. Text them or send an email explaining why you’re asking for their feedback and what you’re going to do with it.
    You told us, we listened…
    Always-on should be a two-way process so you need to respond to people’s input, champion good suggestions and acknowledge contributions. Keep the conversation going and demonstrate that the process works.
    How to win the battle for talent
    02nd October 2017 - 12:00
    Businesses face a lot of uncertainties at the moment. Nobody knows how Brexit is going to pan out or how the economy is going to fare. All we can say is that for most of us things could be tough.
    In those circumstances it is more important than ever that organisations are able to recruit, motivate and retain the best people. But that is an increasingly difficult task. Talented people know their worth and know what they are looking for from a prospective employer. If businesses don’t measure up, they will lose the battle for talent.
    What does measuring up mean? It means recognising that for many people family values are more important than corporate values and that work-life balance is vital. It means creating a compelling work environment in which the free flow of information and regular feedback are the norm.
    Always-on feedback platforms can help create that compelling environment. Asking simple, questions such as “How are you feeling about your work?”, “What stopped you doing a great job this week?” and “What would you like to tell us about today?” can provide ongoing insight into what is motivating people and help to identify potential problems. With this approach, feedback becomes a positive, constructive process that encourages involvement and innovation, and engages and empowers people.
    Using employee voice to raise engagement and beat Brexit
    25th September 2017 - 10:00
    Despite the vaporings of politicians on the question of whether or not Britain will ultimately benefit from its divorce from the EU, a period of uncertainty will affect business.
    It has been reported that 36% of employers say their staff have concerns about job security and that their non-UK people are worried about their right to continue working in this country, while the emotive and divisive nature of the debate has only added to workplace tension.
    The clarity and assurances that are essential at times such as these are not forthcoming from our politicians. Therefore, it’s incumbent on businesses to step up to the plate and demonstrate that they understand the human as well as the financial implications of Brexit, and how a highly engaged, united and motivated workforce will be vital in helping them navigate the unknown waters ahead.
    If they haven’t already done so, it’s time for businesses to invest in effective engagement and communications processes that open an on-going, two-way dialogue between employees and management, which enables them to address concerns, and remove uncertainty and fear.
    By doing this they will go a long way towards Brexit-proofing themselves whatever Westminster or Brussels throws at them.
    A revolutionary approach to employee engagement– could it work for you?
    11th September 2017 - 16:00
    As management teams struggle to engage their people and make their company a “great place to work” a new generation of feedback tools are emerging which are helping companies transform the employee experience.
    These platforms tend to favour simple, actionable questions such as “How are you feeling about your work today?”, “What stopped you doing a great job this week?” and “How far would you recommend this company as a great place to work?” They can also go beyond engagement and get feedback on operational issues, staff turnover, and customer service. Asked regularly, they provide companies with immediate, real-time feedback, keep them in contact with front-line staff, and enable them to identify potential problems and fix them.
    With this approach, feedback becomes a very positive, constructive process that encourages involvement and innovation, and engages and empowers people.
    These employee feedback tools are not a fad. They are set to revolutionise the way companies relate to and manage their people.
    Who’s responsible for engagement in your business?
    05th September 2017 - 15:00
    Many businesses have long realised that nurturing and looking after existing customers is far more profitable than chasing new business. Part of that process involves getting regular, real-time customer feedback from customers and acting on it to ensure that products and services remain exactly in line with their needs.
    It’s the same with employees: retaining and engaging existing people makes far better business sense that constantly hiring and training replacements. However, the engagement process seldom involves getting real-time feedback from employees.
    This can be remedied with relative ease. Always-on platforms can provide real-time, continuous feedback on a range of critical people processes such as on-boarding, retention, performance management, and engagement. As well as uncovering trends, they can drill into emerging issues and provide nuanced insights into why employees feel and act the way they do.
    With always-on feedback, engagement is no longer the exclusive responsibility of HR. Team-level reporting puts it in the hands of line managers and their teams, and gives them the insights to drive bottom-up improvements.
    Smartphone apps for HR – Which to go for?
    21st August 2017 - 10:00
    Smartphone apps have been described as the next frontier for HR technology. They give companies the ability to provide online learning, manage performance, facilitate continuous feedback from managers and employees, and run pulse surveys to measure engagement.
    For companies considering a smartphone app, one of the first questions is should they go for a native app or a web app. A native app is something that is installed on the smartphone like the apps that are downloaded from app stores. A web app is something that is opened in your web browser but not stored on the phone. Below, we offer some of the pros and cons of each.
    Native apps are easy to use, run fast and make full use of the device features. However, they have certain disadvantages. They are built for specific devices. They are expensive to develop and maintain and cannot be easily updated. And because data can be stored on the device there are considerable security issues if the device is lost or stolen.
    A web app, on the other hand, typically works across all platforms and operating systems. It is relatively inexpensive to develop and is simple to maintain and update. Security is much less of an issue because data is stored in the cloud rather than on the device.
    So unless you are looking for full device integration or game-quality graphics, the web app is probably the better option.
    Are you losing your best people?
    14th August 2017 - 10:00
    A certain level of staff turnover is normal and even beneficial. It can provide opportunities to promote high performers and bring in "fresh blood". However, when it’s too high the costs can be considerable: direct costs involved in recruiting replacements, and indirect costs related to administrative and management tasks. In many cases the greatest costs are those related to reduced efficiency and the skills and knowledge lost to competitors.
    Most organisations recognise this and conduct exit interviews as a means of understanding why people leave. However, research suggests that leavers seldom divulge the real reasons in those interviews. As a result, the value of exit interviews is often limited.
    For that reason an increasing number of companies are turning to leavers surveys as a means of gathering reliable insight into why people leave. They offer the same confidentiality levels as other surveys and consequently the results should be reliable, and when they ask the right questions it is possible to separate out the critical pull and push factors behind the decision to leave, and identify the key drivers of staff turnover.
    Nowadays the leavers survey can be part of a much bigger, always-on employee feedback platform which can also be used to track engagement and give your people a voice on a range of issues.
    Why always-on employee feedback?
    7th August 2017 - 10:00
    Always-on platforms take the hassle out of surveying. The supplier looks after set up, invites your people to participate via emails or text messages, and automates the whole survey process. Your people can take part on their smartphone, tablet or PC.
    You can invite feedback from who you want, when you want, and on any subjects you want. You give your people a voice and listen to them throughout the year.
    Up-to-date feedback enables you to respond to challenges, act on good ideas, and make timely changes. You can measure the effectiveness of initiatives and communications, track trends, and raise engagement. Just as you do with your customer feedback.
    What to look for in a supplier
    A tried and trusted platform, top-notch support, and powerful, easy-to use reporting. On top of that, look for competitive pricing and flexible terms.
    Millennials – Do you have what it takes to engage them?
    31 July 2017 - 09:00
    A lot has been said about generation Y, the Millennials, their preferences and expectations. Some of it is fanciful exaggeration but some things ring true. As a group they tend to be tech-savvy, attach more importance to family values than corporate values, and expect to balance work with their personal life. It is said they have a preference for team-oriented environments, and value a free flow of information and regular feedback.
    As an older generation retires, Millennials are moving into management and leadership positions in increasing numbers. This, together with the proliferation of digital technology and social media, is already having an impact on how we organise work.
    If we want to recruit and retain the best people we need to remember, at the flick of a touchpad, they can see how their current business or competing businesses are rated by their employees.
    To attract the people we want, and manage their expectations we need to start seeing the world through their eyes. Only then will we be able to create a compelling work environment.
    Many businesses already embrace social media and a variety of tools to help with that. One of those tools is the always-on feedback platform. Managed properly it can provide the real-time, two-way communications process that is not only important to Millennials but all employees.
    Always-on feedback – Is it really killing the annual survey?
    20 July 2017 - 10:00
    Purveyors of always-on employee feedback apps would sometimes have us believe annual surveys are dead because:
    • They’re time-consuming,
    • They produce a huge workload spike,
    • They are outdated by the time the data is analysed,
    • They are unpopular with employees.
    Are those criticisms justified? In our view no! With good project management and analytics skills it is possible to minimise the impact on workload and produce even the most complex analyses and reports in days. And provided the business has a track record of acting on feedback and driving improvement, employees readily recognise the value the survey brings.
    An always-on approach, on the other hand, is unlikely to provide the sheer volume of data that is needed for linkage analysis - an assessment of the impact of engagement on key business metrics such as sales or customer satisfaction.
    That doesn’t mean annual surveys are better than always-on programmes. In our view they complement each other. Always-on is a great way of keeping your finger on the pulse, identifying issues as they emerge, and pinpointing the things that are of concern to people. The annual survey, on the other hand provides the big picture and the long view, and highlights issues that might need to be tracked over time via the always-on platform.
    Always-on employee feedback – letting people communicate as they do outside work
    6 July 2017 - 12:00
    As consumers we’re used to providing feedback – just think of Amazon and Tripadvisor. And some of us, especially millennials, have grown up with instant two-way communications – things like texting and online messaging. But as employees, most of us don’t get the same opportunity to provide regular feedback.
    Some organisations are beginning to recognise its value and are introducing continuous feedback programmes which enable employees to provide feedback how and when they want, using web and mobile channels - mirroring how they behave outside work. It helps to engage them and it enables businesses to ask any number of questions, tune into employee views, and address issues before they escalate.
    Always-on platforms are powerful but they don’t need to be overly complex. They need to enable businesses to create, launch and analyse surveys, and share information rapidly. Getting set up need not be difficult. The challenges are more cultural than technical. Above all, businesses need to be agile with their responses.