The HR Bitch Takes Her LeaveNo Comments
20 years ago this week I started maternity leave. My professional future looked bright. The plan was to take 5 months’ leave as I’d worked hard, excelled in my career and was the consistent bread winner of the family.
My son was born on the first day of my Mat Leave, probably the biggest life changing moment I’ve experienced!
The world was changing too, just five weeks later 911 happened, I vividly remember breastfeeding and watching the first and then the second plane crash into the twin towers, those harrowed moments where the world watched live footage in disbelief.
Being a working mother was quite different 20 years ago, we were entitled to six months leave and my employer had agreed I could return part-time for the final month, to ramp myself back up into full time work. There would be no flexibility to work lesser / different hours.
I was exceptionally lucky that my grandmother wanted to treat her offspring to a couple of weeks away in the following January, so I visited my workplace to introduce bubba, and explained I’d like to extend my mat leave to the full six-months.
The response was something along the lines, ‘but you’re putting family first’. It didn’t take me too long to make another life changing decision. Resigning from that role.
At times it was tough financially, however I found roles which suited me and the family. Work : life balance was hugely important. I reflected I hadn’t given birth to a child to not see him between 7.30am and 7.00pm (if I was lucky, he slept 7 through 7!).
During my career in HR my clients have responded to dramatic changes in UK legislation ranging from the increase to 52 weeks Maternity Leave with 39 weeks’ pay, Paternity Leave to be paid and more recently Shared Parental Leave.
Fast forward 20 years and I’m very grateful I made that decision to spend time in those early years bringing both my sons up, I wouldn’t change anything! Yet, I sometimes question what might have been, had companies back then offered what is quickly becoming the norm.
Raising a family can be shared between both parents far more easily with gender neutral parental policies, which are becoming more and more regular. For example from this autumn John Lewis is offering both parents paid parental leave after they’ve been with the partnership for 1 year. Each being able to receive 26 weeks paid leave (14 weeks at full contractual pay and 12 weeks at 50% contractual pay). Following in the steps of other industries, John Lewis are the first retailer to offer this.
The chance to share leave would have been a game changer for my circumstances. Studies show sharing childcare can improve gender equality and reduce the gender pay gap. I am hopeful that my sons’ generation will see equality as the norm, when we consider how far forward the world has moved in 20 years, that many aspects are changing for the better.
The HR Bitch loves wearing different hats!No Comments
‘If you do it for love, the money comes anyway.’ I’d jotted this phrase in my ‘happy’ notebook, the place I go to seek inspiration, or when I have felt empowered and motivated.
How many of us have felt stuck in ground hog day? How do you remove that feeling?
Four years ago, I took a leap of faith. I knew I loved working with people, however I had persisted in a role I had outgrown. I loved the company, the culture and more importantly our team. But, I recognised something had to give.
With some savings under my belt, I started up a company. I had no idea what the future might hold. I felt brave. I had knowledge and experience backing me up. What I needed to ‘sell’, was me. The unique me, the HR generalist whose values lie in helping others, making change and developing people to be the best they are able to be, the person who injects motivation and humour into situations.
The first few months were unknown. I wrote a business plan, financial forecast, the administration involved in starting a company, dipped my toe into marketing, developing a web page and learning about sales. Within 3 months I had various clients, and suddenly was busy every day, doing something which I loved, and to my amazement, making money.
By the end of the first year I was able to use some earnings to build a garden office, separating work from home. I have since invested in courses to further develop my skillset. My business foundations have allowed me to offer a range of services today.
Me, the HR Bitch, I love hats… I wear several different hats each week. This week has been pretty normal, including:
- advising a personal client about their Wrongful Dismissal
- assisting SME businesses with HR challenges
- addressing the content of a business client’s handbook
- holding 1-2-1s with clients in attaining a short-term goal in alignment with their long-term vision
- mentoring business start-ups in making the next step of their journey
- facilitating several motivational sessions in business start-up/ Continual Professional Development and networking
The people I have been lucky to work with this week see the real me, who loves working, problem solving, guiding and getting results. They have the HR Bitch on their side, although they haven’t seen my hat collection.
I am proud of my accomplishments, about my capacity to jump from one thing to another, to add to my assortment of hats!
Affectionately Known as the HR BitchNo Comments
When a friend referred to me as the ‘HR Bitch’ some years ago I laughed. I would occasionally divulge stories of life at work, so for this particular group of friends the nickname stuck. The result being that I often refer to myself as the HR Bitch when talking with clients.
I suppose it’s the way I say it. Generally, with a giggle. The humour element of the statement is important. I prefer to lighten the mood wherever possible; I know even in complicated situations a smile goes a long way.
Loving to connect with people and making sure everyone is happy is one of my key values. From a work perspective I have my feet in both camps – that of the employer and the employee. Finding solutions that fit and communicating the reasoning behind decisions is a key aspect of my role.
The ‘bitch’ element is my willingness to confront difficult situations, provided there is evidence and process behind them. As a professional, I rely on statistics and the information I have. That is what makes decisions. When push comes to shove, I remove the emotions and manage any bias, basing the outcome on cold hard facts.
In my early career I remember having to fire an employee with 7 years’ service for taking a loaf of bread. I found this process extremely tough. I explained to him that if each of the 100 employees took a loaf of bread every day the profits would dissipate and so would job security. He left the meeting understanding and apologetic, and I learnt an early lesson in how reasoning, communicating and gaining clarity is important. I felt like a bitch because it was so minor, I felt empathy, but also knew the outcome was fair.
Developing working relationships is important, I ensure I build camaraderie, will sing karaoke at the Christmas Party, have a few drinks and bond in a team. But, next week when there is a redundancy, disciplinary, restructure or grievance, my role takes precedence. It’s not being nasty or nice – I have a job to do. The role of HR Bitch returns.
This attitude has always earned me respect, I suppose people can look up to a bitch. This may help answer my conundrum that when moving on from previous roles various staff members have said, ‘take me with you’ or ‘contact me if there’s a suitable role’. I contemplated the only way I could keep these people as colleagues would be to be in direct competition with the other business… and that’s not my career choice!
Members of my Motivational Mornings group talk about my fast pace whilst working. HR Bitch also highlights my ‘get it done’ nature, and my need to resolve problems whilst ensuring processes are followed. I maintain ‘doing what’s right’ and offer advice based on my knowledge and experience. Prolonging tricky scenarios is unfair on individuals, however I also realise gaining a full picture and different perspectives are equally important. I listen and reflect, but if something needs doing I will accomplish it in a timely manner.
The friends who call me HR Bitch often ask advice on professional matters, in fact some of my clients have evolved through this network. The nickname is a label of my profession and describes the HR professional who does what it says on the tin. Being the HR Bitch is something I have worked hard to be.
My Team LunchNo Comments
One of the challenges of working remotely and continuously being cooped up in the confines of our homes during 2020 has meant we’ve missed out on our social calendar, even when it is work related.
It was June before I found myself ‘home alone’ midweek, having juggled the space to accommodate 4 people with different work schedules and all getting on with what we needed to do. Whether working, studying, redundancy, being furloughed – we had a bit of everything under our roof in the 3 months since March.
That June morning I realised I’d missed out on 4 team lunches, an opportunity I relish to explore a new eatery and have a proper ‘out of work’ catch up with some good food, generally something I wouldn’t cook for myself.
Restrictions hadn’t yet been lifted, the restaurants were all still closed, but I thought it was time to celebrate with my team. As I’d taken the chance to further develop my business, I was no longer contracting with anyone, and therefore my team was me!
Risotto sprang to mind. Fairly easy to make, one of my favourites, but needing constant attention whilst being cooked, so time consuming… I decided to become my own chef and take time to enjoy cooking process whilst listening to some music and then deservedly sitting down to enjoy every last morsel.
The sense of achievement, contentment and complete self-indulgence was extremely motivating. I had entertained my senses and taken care of me, a hugely empowering feeling.
The lesson I learned that day was to be good to myself, treat myself occasionally (the treat doesn’t have to cost very much) and enjoy the opportunities each day brings.
The Powerful Art of ListeningNo Comments
Wow! Thank you for all who participated in this morning’s motivational session, where we delved into relationships and focused on the skill of listening.
Who listens to you?
Sometimes we need a sounding board to vent frustrations or concerns or to share celebrations.
Other times we want advice, from a family member, friend or colleague. Yet, would the person you ask know any more than you?
As you are the expert in your own life, should you take advice from anyone else?
Ultimately if decisions need to be made, they have to come from you as you are the key stakeholder in your life. This is the reason 1-2-1 sessions offer amazing results.
During today’s group discussion a member described how writing down frustrations assisted her in tackling issues. Referring to her ‘vomit book’ as the place where she is able to vent, to let off steam and to put challenges aside. Whilst this is one way of tackling mind chatter, talking to someone is immensely important, providing that the other person is actively listening.
One of the small group exercises today allowed each participant the chance to talk uninterrupted for 3 minutes on any topic they chose. Their partner listened intently – not making any judgement or asking any questions until the time had passed.
The result was extremely powerful for both individuals. Speakers took the opportunity to share and talk about what really mattered in that moment. As a listener we noticed far more. Taking the time to hear was instrumental in the success of our session, even when we listened to silence for a few minutes at the end of the session.
I am so grateful to have the chance to facilitate these group motivational sessions. Sharing experiences, knowledge and discussing with each other, and above all else everyone having the chance to be heard. One thing we have in common is that we are all human. The interaction with others helps us learn about ourselves and offers us inspiration as a group.
Listening is a skill. We need to learn to listen and teach those around us to listen, it should be taught to our children.
I returned to the office todayNo Comments
I recognised my need to separate work and home a couple of years ago and had invested in a cabin in the garden.
When my son returned from university in March, way earlier than expected, he transformed my cabin into an architectural studio, the space became a hub of creativity with models and A1 drawings. The uncertainty of his future at Uni due to COViD meant until he was settled into his 2nd year, I didn’t want to encroach on my garden office.
Today I started my morning in the office, facilitating my regular, ‘Motivational Mornings’ Zoom call.
When I popped back ‘home’ for a cuppa I was suddenly taken to put some washing on… it struck me that I knew I had been right about having a space to work away from the normal life of home.
For months I had procrastinated in so many areas. I’d taken a day out of my week to undertake the humdrum jobs of shopping/ cleaning/ washing…
Working prior to COVID, my routine was a well-oiled machine. Train to work, train back, out of the house, 11 hours per day minimum. Fitting in washing, cooking and cleaning around my schedule.
How come when living and working from home continuously I struggled with self-motivation to fit housework in?
It could have been suddenly 4 of us in the house, all beavering away at one thing or another, meaning a lack of space to achieve these things. But, in early lockdown this didn’t pose a challenge as we rocked our way into the ‘new normal’.
I took the unusual circumstances as a personal challenge – cooking new recipes to entertain our taste buds with a variety of dishes; spring cleaning and keeping our home as immaculate as possible.
When restrictions were lifted and we edged into some sort of normality during June and July, the slog of my being at home constantly started to grind. I lost interest in the housework (luckily for the family this did not extend to my cooking, I see that as a hobby!) and the routine dissipated as the others returned to work, uni, engaging with friends.
I had spent time in 1:2:1 sessions discussing my ‘move’ down the garden, I had a plan. The plan was thwarted along the way, set back by the cabin not being vacated as quickly as I’d hoped.
Last week I moved my office equipment, paperwork and everything to my new space. Yet I still wasn’t ready to make the move…
Procrastination? Fear of change? Not wanting to bite the bullet?
I had excuses such as, ‘What if I can’t get broadband to hold Zoom meetings?’
In hindsight (which is always a wonderful thing) all of these were ridiculous!
Today is a new beginning. My opportunities are endless.
Now is the time I am extending the portfolio of motivational sessions I run, to engage with different groups of people and offer a platform to provide inspiration and boost energy.
I am excited that I will be able to see old and new faces, develop a rapport and discuss topics which will assist us in our journey to make dreams our reality.
HR work and 1:2:1 sessions will continue (in person if they wish!).
Most importantly I am now enjoying my workspace, I’ve attained that goal! It is just what I wanted, a personal, safe and confidential space, even if it’s only a few metres from home.
For booking motivational sessions contact me or use the following link:
The HRsource Coaching Experience: A Client’s PerspectiveNo Comments
Claire H sent HRsource this testimonial in August 2020. It offers a super overview of what to expect in coaching sessions, and how Adelaide is able to work with Millennials who want a change of direction.
“At the beginning of June I was referred to coaching sessions by a friend and was very lucky to be pointed in Adelaide’s direction. During six sessions over several months, Adelaide’s guidance has been crucial in getting me to where I am now – which is a far way from the point I was at when we met! Adelaide’s coaching skills have helped me find clarity, set goals with a clear plan to achieve them and crucially built confidence in myself.
This is the first time I’ve ever undergone any form of coaching and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was an unknown for me, and a big step outside of my comfort zone. Adelaide’s warm personality quickly established a safe space, where I felt comfortable expressing myself and built an essential level of trust. Before we started our sessions, I felt directionless and trapped in my current job, which I knew I wanted to move on from but didn’t know how to move forward.
Straight away, Adelaide explained what coaching is and how our sessions could help. I really responded to the onus of the sessions being driven by me. More than anything else this meant that in every one of our calls, I had a strong feeling of taking agency over my work situation, and that I had support and a sounding board along the way. It’s a very empowering style of coaching and now that our sessions have ended I feel confident in how to proceed to the next step, and feel the motivation to keep pushing forward.
In our first sessions, Adelaide’s coaching style almost acted as a mirror and helped me to reflect on what it was I wanted to achieve, and why. The result of this is that I have clarity on exactly what direction I want to take my career in. I found that clarity much quicker than I thought I would, and I think this is completely down to Adelaide’s ability to create a non-judgemental, supportive environment where I could be myself, without worrying about what anyone else was thinking. We broke down each session into setting achievable, tangible goals so that each time we met I had made progress. This was incredibly motivating and reinforced the sense of moving forward every time we spoke.
When setting new goals and how and why they would be useful, Adelaide did a wonderful job in helping me to keep pushing further every time and consider creative questions and possible solutions. This was brilliant because it was making me think about things from outside the box, which I wouldn’t have done without her guidance.
Adelaide also did a huge amount of confidence-building exercises with me, because it became clear quite early on that while I am confident in my abilities, fear of failing has been holding me back. We did a number of exercises that helped me move beyond this type of thinking. One of my favourites is that where I kept repeating ‘I’m trying to do x’, Adelaide pointed out that I wasn’t ‘trying’, I was already ‘doing’. Mantras and affirmations have been really helpful to me in building confidence and not giving the energy and space to negative thoughts. Visualisation techniques were also very helpful as it meant I gave myself permission to imagine succeeding and how that would feel, rather than worrying about all the things that could go wrong.
Now that we’ve finished our sessions, I’m incredibly grateful to Adelaide and her clear, unwavering support. Having not really known what to expect during our first goals, I feel like Adelaide helped me make the absolute most of our time together, so that on writing this now, I feel like I have come a long way. I know what steps I need to take next to achieve my goals, and she’s given me the tools to keep going. Thank you Adelaide.”
If you are considering coaching, contact us on 07711199732.
The A – Z of Adelaide…No Comments
…Or perhaps just A!
During early lockdown, when we were all trying to find the new normal, I joined the many on facebook taking part in random time wasters, for example the ‘10 albums which defined my taste in music’ or asking friends for a word to describe me using the letter A.
These exercises allowed a certain amount of frivolity, but also gave course to introspection. Whilst I was described as ‘Amazing’, ‘Adorable’, ‘Awesome’, ‘Alluring’, ‘Amicable’ (words which will describe any human) and gratifyingly not angry or antagonistic (which at certain times I’m sure I can be with my family), a few of these adjectives got me thinking. Some friends had found words which I hadn’t considered.
These surprised me, causing me to reflect whether these friends had an insight into me which I take for granted.
I am passionate about other human beings, the profession I have chosen fits me well. Additionally, I always think of others, love feeding people (nourishment of the mind as well as delicious food) being kind, supporting and not wanting anything in return. I must thank my neighbour who summed me to the core, by writing ‘Altrustic’, a word I had never previously used to help define me.
My career has been assisted by my good judgement, being perceptive in the various situations which arise and therefore the cousin who called me ‘Astute’ who doesn’t know the business me, recognised the qualities which innately form me.
I have good friends in their twenties and others in their seventies, from different religions, ethnic backgrounds; am buoyed by their diversity and love learning about different cultures. This ability to relate to people, no matter what confounds, to the university friend who wrote ‘Ageless’, I consider this as being able to fit in to any situation (or perhaps I’ve not changed in the many years I’ve known her).
Wearing different hats continually throughout the day, from being a Mum, friend, sister, wife, driver, manager, housekeeper, consultant, mentor, coach is something I thrive from. Having the ability to go with the flow, to quickly change direction when required, the ex-colleague who described me as ‘Adaptable’, clearly recognises the fact I love a challenge and dislike groundhog day.
Laughter is the best medicine, I have a dry sense of humour and love a giggle and to lighten the mood where ever possible. A Mum from school calling me ‘Amusing’ does fit, and if it is because I am the cause of the enjoyment, I’ll take that too!
That’s just the start of the alphabet, I am too modest to request friends and colleagues to start describing me with other letters, particularly as I believe these words offer a well-rounded opinion of me.
Working From HomeNo Comments
Guide to Working From Home
In light of recent government advice COVID-19 continues as a threat to the nation. Although ‘lockdown’ meant a shift to compulsory working from home for a period, this is likely to be elongated.
You may be self isolating, however you may have flat mates or perhaps partners, kids and animals to keep you company. This article is meant to share some tips which you might find useful to support you, your team and the households working from home scenario.
The NEW work environment
Working with your team
Communication remains important.
Hopefully your regular team meetings have remained in the diary even though you are all at home. You may now be adept at Zoom (who had heard of that in January?) or be using Skype / Google Hangouts / MSTeams or What’s App to stay in touch.
We have enjoyed remote drinks on a Friday, as well as the normal 1-2-1 sessions, and even managed to undertake a grievance investigation through video conferencing – and it’s almost as good as face to face meetings!
Your team’s working days may have changed a little with working from home, with fewer meetings, etc., and so this could be the perfect time to introduce some online training.
Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about how you can implement E-learning.
Another online learning tool we’ve recently discovered is Kahoot – you can design simple quizzes for testing knowledge or even just something for fun!
Business networkers are likely to be missing interaction with your peers at the moment, but there are online options. Of course, there is LinkedIn where you can stay connected with other businesses, but there are also a lot of other communities popping up. Groups on Facebook have been an enormous hit – check out some of your areas of interest. We’ve been busy with daily 8am meetings to get going and motivated for the day ahead.
Health & Safety
Have you managed to organise a Work From Home Policy and double checked everyone has the right equipment to work safely? Although you can’t physically check how your team’s work station is set up, it might be a good idea to share this DSE workstation checklist with them so they can check they are set up correctly, you can find one on the Health & Safety Executive website here.
Please contact us if you would like help in building more structure in these uncertain times. Our off the shelf policies or bespoke solutions will offer you guidance. Contact email@example.com or call Adelaide on 07711 199732, we look forward to hearing from you.
COVID19 and the UK WorkplaceNo Comments
The latest news suggests workplaces can reopen, but as an employer what should you be considering prior to following this advice?
It is your responsibility to provide a healthy and safe workplace
Employers have a duty under through the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to protect the health and safety of their workers.
To meet your obligations to provide a safe workplace you should update your health and safety policies and at the same time consider developing practices in the workplace to address the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
This article comprises common threads which could help you decide whether and when to reopen your workplace.
First, an employer must determine whether they can legally reopen their physical workplaces (many retail, leisure and hospitality establishments are unlikely to open until July at the earliest).
If you believe you are legally able to reopen your physical workplaces, you will need to consider whether their workplaces can be opened safely:
- implement controls to address COVID-19
- assess the COVID-19 as a hazard in the workplace
Assessing the Risk of COVID-19
- Conduct a risk assessment for COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.
- Consult with the health and safety committees and/or employee representatives.
- Seek input from employees on where potential transmission may occur and how they think COVID-19 transmission can be controlled.
- Conduct a walk-through of the workplace to identify specific conditions or tasks that may increase the risk of exposure of employees to COVID-19.
- Document your findings
Specific considerations for ensuring a safe and healthy workplace
By eliminating or reducing physical contact between employees, COVID-19 becomes less of a risk, but how can you accomplish this?
- allow employees to continue to work from home (see my next blog on work from home arrangements)
- Working from home is not possible for everyone, and is unlikely to offer a permanent solution which both employers and employees will yearn for
Therefore, employers should consider:
- a staggered physical return to work,
- flexible working hours to reduce rush hour challenges,
- reassessment of workplace risk and the supporting policy.
As more and more employees physically return to the workplace, how can you as an employer introduce measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in your workplace?
- Barriers through implementing physical distancing and screens
- Policy and Procedure adjustments to reduce risk
- Using Personal Protective Equipment
- Bear in mind it is not just your employees you need to consider, but you have a duty of care to customers, suppliers, patients, visitors and members of the public.
Employers could consider these measures for reducing COVID-19 related risks in the workplace:
Measures to be introduced Factors to take into account Limit the number of people in the workplace Work from home if it is plausible.
Minimise the number of employees returning to the workplace.
Introduce rotas to stagger the returning employees by varying start times/ days of the week worked – a flexible approach to being at work.
Controlling the exits/ entrances to ensure the 2 metre gap is kept.
Encourage physical distancing at work Limit the entrance and exit points.
Reconsider the floor plan, rearrange the space to increase separation between desks, kitchen and dining areas, breakout areas, meeting rooms and restrooms.
Limiting the number of people who can ride in a lift.
Introduce one-way systems around the workplace.
Taping off areas around key equipment (printers/ kitchen) to show the 2 metre gap.
Discourage in person meetings.
Decrease social contact and limit physical interaction Install barriers – such as transparent plastic glass found in supermarkets and chemists.
Remove communal items which can’t be easily cleaned, eg fruit bowls/ magazines etc..
Ensure equipment is not shared, ie keyboards, stationery equipment etc..
Ensure cleaning materials are accessible to all communal equipment- printers/ kettles/ fridges.
Share documents electronically.
Personal and workplace hygiene Instil the message of handwashing and good hygiene by ensuring there is access to hand sanitizer (which is regularly replenished) e.g. one on every desk; posters displaying ‘stay alert’, ‘hygiene’, ‘keep distance’; regular cleaning and sanitisation; sanitising AC units and having adequate ventilation in the workspace. Preventing Sick Employees from being at work Develop policies and procedures to offer employees guidelines of what to do if they are sick or suspect they have had contact with a COVID19 carrier. For example, ensure employees complete a fit for work assessment every day they intend to come to the workplace, perhaps taking their own temperature. Developing new policies Consider implementing procedures:
Travel only when necessary
Train employees on COVID19 etiquette and the latest findings
Keep records of all individuals who attend to workplace to allow trace if necessary (providing GDPR compliant)
Review policies to ensure social distancing continues
Consider employees concerns carefully, these may include refusal to attend work. Increase employee engagement and make use of Health and Safety/ Employee Representative Committees.
Develop a wellbeing policy, recognising the impact of COVID19.
Take a step back Review the above regularly, to ensure they are in line with latest government advice, and working for your team.
HRsource will assist you in introducing these policies and offer regular correspondence to share with your team.
Contact us today by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Adelaide on 07711199732.