HR in 90 Seconds - March 2019

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 13 March 2019
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In this month’s ‘HR in 90 seconds…’ we talk about International Women’s Day and the impact that there might be as we see a consistent rise in the employment rates of females. We also discuss how organisations can create a sense of belonging for remote and home workers with some useful tips, the mindset of Psychological Capital, PILON and the issue of paying holidays, and our recent interview with Brian Parkes, People and Culture Director at Queen's University Belfast.

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In order to mark International Women’s Day last week, we heard form Eileen Lavery, Head of Policy at the Equality Commission talking about ‘A Woman’s Place is in the Workplace’. Eileen reminded us that “The two most common causes for complaint are pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment. Women cannot be said to have full equality in the workplace while they are still subjected to such treatment.”

Eileen Lavery said that women are working in a broader range of occupations and industries and that the inequalities and problems have persisted. She finished by saying that tackling them must be given a higher policy priority by policymakers in Northern Ireland if we are to ensure women achieve – and maintain – their proper place as full equals within the workforce.

There are other interesting thought leaders in the area such as Josh Levs – Levs is the top global thought leader in creating inclusive workplaces by making advancement opportunities and work-life balance available equally to women and men. It was interesting to read recently a report from the US where ‘strategy+business’ on LinkedIn reported that 73% of fathers said there’s little workplace support for them. They also report that work-life balance initiatives are a crucial part of building gender equality. Many people believe that these initiatives are there to support women in the workplace but an article by Levs give us cause to think about these initiatives being open to both men and women.

Surely it is important to recognise that ‘To level the playing field at the office, it is essential that companies promote work-life balance and family-friendly policies for all employees.’

It is very interesting to think about this from a different perspective, we have recommended articles by Josh Levs in previous emails. Levs famously launched a legal battle against his employer for fair parental leave, which got a great deal of attention. In the end, the company revolutionised its policies. It was a win-win. He also wrote a book, ‘All In’, about these issues. He now travels the world working with businesses and organisations on making work-life balance initiatives equally available to men. You can follow Josh Levs on LinkedIn where is frequently posts about making work-life balance options a reality for men, often talking about reducing the stigmas that surround it.

Levs reports that in recent years, some high-profile companies, including Netflix, Microsoft, and Amazon, have announced plans to create or expand paternity leave. This is definitely going to become more and more of a talked about subject as we continue to see the female employment rate steadily rising.

Moving forward and thinking about forms of flexible working we look at an article on remote workers, changes in workplace cultures mean that home and remote working is becoming more and more common. One of the key areas that cause concern in this areas is how can we ensure that the growing number of remote workers feel connected to their work and their colleagues?

The best advice for making remote workers feel like they belong: Make their experience as similar as it can be to that of co-workers who see each other in person every day. From a management perspective, the following tips are especially helpful:

  • Once they’ve earned it, trust them. Because you don’t see them working, it’s easy to assume any lull in communication means remote workers are twiddling their thumbs. The nicest part of working remotely is that you can easily build blocks of uninterrupted, concentration time into your day. Set clear expectations for remote workers as to what communication best practices look like at the company, but don’t worry if you don’t get a ping from them every five minutes.
  • Be mindful of time zones. To help people in all time zones feel included, strive to delay decision-making until you’ve heard from everyone who should be involved. And if you occasionally need to ask a colleague to join a meeting outside of their normal work hours, we recommend skipping video. It’s much easier to jump on and participate if they aren’t expected to be camera-ready.
  • Send them physical packages! When Liz was working remotely as a consultant, one of her clients had a cake delivered to her apartment on her birthday. Another sent her paychecks in illustrated thank-you cards. When everything is digital, a physical package (think company swag, books, snacks, or handwritten notes) is delightful.
  • Help remote workers meet each other. This can be done by setting up virtual lunches, teatimes, or what Buffer terms “pair calls”. For pair calls, Buffer employees opt in to be randomly paired with someone else at the company once a week. Calls have no set agenda; co-workers get to know each other by talking about their families, hobbies, and favourite shows.

Creating belonging for remote workers doesn’t have to feel like a daunting task. It simply requires carving out small moments for employees to connect digitally on a personal level.

Other items of interest:

In this month’s HR Updates, Emer Hinphey discusses the mindset of Psychological Capital, looking at 4 key areas including the core drivers, what and how we measure, developing managers knowledge and managing modern day change.

Are you sometimes confused by PILON? Joanna Cunningham deals with PILON and the issue of paying holidays in this month’s First Tuesday Q&A.

Want to know what it takes to look after 3,400 people? We interview Brian Parkes, People & Culture Director, Queen’s University Belfast to find out more about his career, what it takes to get through a tough day and what the key characteristics are of his top performing employees.

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This article is correct at 13/03/2019

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