+44 (0) 1792 522 244|info@jane-systems.co.uk

Do the Right Thing

Starbucks was publicly shamed last month after two black customers were arrested in one of their Philadelphia outlets for reasons that still seem baffling. The two men were waiting for a friend to arrive before placing an order, but were asked to leave. When they asked why, the police were called. Almost inevitably the incident was filmed and the fallout has been wide-reaching. The chain, which draws annual global revenue in excess of $22 billion, faced accusations of unconscious bias and even open racism.

To their credit Starbucks wasted no time in addressing the issue. Over 8,000 US-based outlets were closed yesterday afternoon, enabling 175,000 staff to receive “unconscious bias” training. No expense was spared in the session and shutting up shop on a weekday afternoon meant a huge amount of expense was incurred, but the reaction has been mixed.

There’s anger among some employees that anyone should have to be trained not to be a racist. There’s also widespread scepticism about the effectiveness of the exercise. From a PR standpoint it may have looked like a good option but to those of us who’ve worked in environments that were poisoned by prejudice – conscious and unconscious – it seems optimistic in the extreme to expect that kind of negativity to disappear because people watched a video. Doing something is usually better than doing nothing, but what’s the best course of action?

We can’t blame Starbucks for the racism that pervades society and it’s harsh to blame them for recruiting people who are guilty of unconscious bias. Unspoken prejudice can fly under the radar in the most diligent recruitment interviews, so how can we deal with it and give it no room to flourish?

Those of us who […]

What Part of “Privacy” Don’t You Understand?

It was exciting for him, anyway. He was a big fan of the show and an even bigger fan of the actress. I smiled at his enthusiasm, but soon stopped smiling when he told me how the number came into his possession. He’d interviewed a candidate for an office job who’d previously worked as a PA at a talent agency. Her referees included clients she’d done particularly good work for, and as part of her application she’d given the Eastenders star’s phone number.

In a case like this we don’t need the law to tell us what’s right and wrong. Using this data for personal reasons completely unrelated to the original job application would have been ridiculously unprofessional and a clear violation of the actress’s privacy. It would have put his own job in jeopardy and also risked souring the job applicant’s relationship with her referee. Thankfully my friend snapped out of his fantasy before doing any damage. Recruiters and HR professionals aren’t doctors; they don’t have to take a Hippocratic oath but they do have to respect the people they work with and the information that comes their way. At Jane Systems we see evidence of that respect every day. We work with HR professionals throughout the public and private sectors and what consistently shines through isn’t just their respect for privacy, it’s the fact that this respect is woven into the fabric of their actions.

Right now that’s just as well. GDPR becomes law on Friday, and much of the casual rule-bending that characterizes bad practice will now have more serious and legally actionable consequences. We’ve already had a reminder this week of how star-struck fans can overstep the mark. Ed Sheeran’s treatment for […]

Like Goldy or Silvery but Made of Iron

It’s almost 30 years since the final episode of “Blackadder” was broadcast but it remains one of Britain’s best-loved situation comedies. And the jokes are still funny. In one episode, when the title character asks his hapless sidekick Baldrick if he understands what irony is, Baldrick memorably replies “It’s like goldy or silvery, but made of iron”.

ACAS’s stated purpose, its reason for existence and indeed the derivation of its name is based on its commitment to conciliation and arbitration in workplace disputes. Employers and employees turn to ACAS to resolve their problems every day. If these guys can’t come to an amicable agreement then who can?

ACAS employees who are members of the Public and Commercial Services union walked out this week in protest over what they described as unmanageable workloads and generally poor working conditions. In their defence the union has contended that this action didn’t come out of nowhere. They say ACAS staff have flagged up their concerns repeatedly, but months of talks have produced an impasse. The Union argues that since last summer’s decision to abolish fees for taking a workplace grievance to an employment tribunal, the number of tribunals has soared by 90%. The strain is showing, on both the system and its officers. Industrial relations, ACAS’s specialty, appear to have broken down.

If there was an easy answer to this problem then employer and employee would surely have found it. Workplace relationships and staff motivation are complex issues, with variations from one organisation and one individual to the next.

Jane Systems offers you:

A HR system that encourages your staff to take responsibility for their future, take pride in their performance and have confidence in their career development.

A service that meets every current […]

The Avoidable Fights

In the ten months since the UK Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees were unlawful, the number of tribunal cases has, not surprisingly, risen sharply. While we applaud the principle of justice being accessible to those who need it, not just those who can afford it, one of the practical upshots is an employment law tribunal system creaking under the weight of claims. The three years from 2014 to 2017 when fees were payable saw a 70% decline in case numbers, and the number is now rising again just as steeply.

Some advocate mediation as a useful problem-solving tool, and we’re certainly in favour of potential conflict being snuffed out before sparks turn to flames. The emotional and professional cost to an individual of nursing a grievance can be ruinous. Even when a tribunal gives them the opportunity to make themselves heard and gain compensation, restitution or closure, the road to that outcome can be hard and damaging. It’s difficult not to wonder what’s gone so badly wrong with HR procedure and practice that this is the long-drawn-out result. It’s difficult to accept that nothing could have been done to steer a different course.

Sometimes people and organisations just don’t fit, and the sooner they part ways the better it is for all concerned. But how often do relations between good employees and good employers reach breaking point for avoidable reasons?

Make your policies understandable and reasonable. Don’t just follow rules to the letter, honour their spirit. Let your people know they really are your people and see how that impacts on their loyalty and performance.

And have a system in place that smoothly converts your good intentions into good practice.

How much easier would it be […]

The Charity Challenge

At the Safeguarding Summit of March 6th between the Charity Commission and the Office for Civil Society, four key areas of priority were identified for the sector

Leadership, culture and values

Law, regulation and the statutory framework

Capacity and capability in charities around safeguarding

Responsibilities and reporting, accountability and transparency

As a long-standing partner to Britain’s charities we’re proud to stand beside them in their efforts, and we’re equally proud to deliver a service that precisely matches these stated priorities.

Leadership, culture and values

The Jane self-service portal has been praised as a motivational tool that gives your people responsibility for maintaining their employee records, encourages them to seek on-the-job training and take pride in the results, and generally immerse themselves in your organisation’s values.

Giving employees this responsibility doesn’t just make them more invested in your organisation and your processes, it frees up management time and gives your leaders more time to lead.

Law, regulation and the statutory framework

Jane software is designed with compliance in mind. You can create any number of user-defined fields to specify statutory action you want your people to take, and the system will monitor it, record it and flag up action or inaction to the designated manager you want to notify.

To take just one example, Jane incorporates a GDPR-focus that enables you to keep track of employee consent for use of their data, and issues immediate alerts to notify you of any changes in consent status. Jane gives you all the tools you need to stay compliant.

Capacity and capability in charities around safeguarding

Jane software enables your managers to monitor and contribute to the hiring process, pooling knowledge to deliver the best possible outcome. It delivers accurate candidate tracking and management, and stringent monitoring of “ready for work” […]

Mind the Gap

We’re still making progress, though, and the movement towards pay equality is gathering momentum.

Legislation introduced in 2017 compelled all companies, charities and public-sector bodies employing more than 250 staff to submit their gender pay figures by not later than April 4th.

The results are in, and they paint an unsatisfying picture;

Of the 10,014 employers who submitted data, eight out of ten pay men more than women.

There is no sector in the UK in which women have a pay advantage.

1,557 employers didn’t bother submitting any data at all.

The equalities watchdog will look into the employers who missed the April 4th deadline and hopefully secure their commitment to playing by the rules, not only in timely submission of data but in working to close the pay gap. We need these rules to be enforced. Across the private and public sectors the disparity is often striking. Trade Unions have traditionally supported those who seek fairer treatment in the workplace but Unite, the largest union in Britain, revealed a pay gap of 29.6% between the sexes, far above the national average of 18.4%. Even more notably, the teachers’ union NASUWT revealed that female educators are paid an average of 42.7% less than their male counterparts.

Jane’s Gender Pay Gap Analysis software delivers precision reporting on:

The average gender pay gap as a mean average

The average gender pay gap as a median average

The average bonus gender pay gap as a mean average

The average bonus gender pay gap as a median average

The proportion of males receiving a bonus payment and proportion of females receiving a bonus payment

The proportion of males and females when divided into four groups ordered from lowest to highest pay

It’s up to individual organisations how they face the challenge of […]

GDPR – Who’s Who?

At Jane Systems we’ve made it our business to be an information source for the General Data Protection Regulations, and as implementation on May 25th draws near we’re seeing our customers approach data protection with the same diligence and professionalism that they show in every other aspect of their work.

Data subjects

The core principle of GDPR is the enhancement of the rights of the individual when it comes to storage and use of their data. These individuals – data subjects – have the right to know exactly what their personal information is being used for, and how long and how securely it will be stored. Data subjects are no longer under pressure to give blanket consent for multiple uses of their details. They can drill down into the fine print of what’s being asked of them, and make sure the people who hold their data have their facts right. From a HR perspective, employees and job applicants are data subjects you’ll come across every day. As individual data subjects we all stand to benefit from this.

Data controllers

The data controller is the person or body that determines the type of personal data that’s required, as well as the objective and method of processing that data. An employer who need to hold their people’s dates of birth and national insurance and remuneration details to process their payroll and satisfy HMRC regulations fulfil the function of data controller. That gives them key responsibilities and increasing levels of obligation. Whatever action they take in this arena, they need to justify it.

Data processors

Data processors are essentially “middlemen”, taking responsibility for processing personal information on behalf of the data controller and following their instructions. The data processor may collect, record, store […]

Everything Costs Something

When a fee-paying scheme was introduced for UK employment tribunals in 2013, it led to an estimated 70% cut in the number of cases. If that statistic was predictable, then it’s hardly a surprise that the recent decision to abolish those fees is set to open the floodgates.

What’s the emotional and professional cost to an individual of nursing a grievance? Even when a tribunal gives someone the opportunity to make themselves heard and gain compensation, restitution or closure, the road to that outcome can be hard and damaging. It’s difficult not to wonder what’s gone so badly wrong with HR procedure and practice that this is the long-drawn-out result.

Sometimes people and organisations just don’t fit, and the sooner they part ways the better it is for all concerned. But how often do relations between good employees and good employers reach breaking point for avoidable reasons?

In HR, as in all things, good practice is good business. When line managers are well versed in your company policies and procedures and follow them because they believe in them, results will follow.

Make those policies understandable and transparently fair. Not just following the letter of employment law but the spirit. Let your people know they really are your people, and see how that impacts on their loyalty and performance.

And have a system in place that smoothly converts your good intentions into good practice.

How much easier would it be for you to build on your people’s skills and motivation if their training needs could be logged via appraisals, business plans, project workflows or direct requests, and the training itself could be monitored at every stage, enabling you to audit and evaluate its […]

Uber’s Challenging September

Uber are getting that message from all directions, and it’s made September a challenging month for them. The transport company turned over $20 billion in 2016, but its dramatic growth has been threatened by Transport for London’s decision to revoke its London licence.

Most of us who’ve lived and worked in London over the past five years will know people who believe Uber has made their lives safer, offering a secure journey home when there were limited alternatives available. Thousands of Londoners have signed petitions in support of Uber this month for that exact reason. The other side of that argument is the accusation of sex discrimination by a female driver that’s hit the headlines this week. The driver claims that Uber is putting her and other women at risk, arguing that drivers don’t know a passenger’s destination until they are in the car, and if the journey is to a remote or unsafe area the driver has no option to cancel the journey. If passengers behave aggressively in the car, the driver can’t ask them to leave without risking a complaint and a low customer rating that could jeopardise their chances of future work.

To compound matters, Uber is appealing a legal ruling that its drivers should be considered workers rather than self-employed independent contractors. The appeal takes place today, and will go a long way to deciding whether drivers should be entitled to benefits such as sick pay and the minimum wage.

Critics argue that Uber’s policies offer insufficient protection to female drivers, and insufficient rights to all drivers. The company has countered with a survey that suggests most drivers enjoy working for them, and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has now gone further, writing […]

The TripAdvisor Test

Consistency in staff treatment, with the same reasonable rules applied to everyone.

Consistency of temperament, with praise and criticism given according to performance, not according to moods.

Loyalty to people who’ve earned it, and respect for those whose hard work has helped build your business.

Preferably not sacking an employee of nine years’ standing on the strength of a negative TripAdvisor Review. Not sacking them without hearing both sides of the story. And not sacking them publicly, via the TripAdvisor website.

The rise of review sites has given consumers an influential voice. This has obvious plus points, but when livelihoods are on the line impulsive reactions serve no one’s best interests. This week Howard and Lucy Spooner, owners of The Outside Chance gastro pub, have come under fire for what appears to be the knee-jerk sacking of a waitress on the strength of a negative customer review. Mrs Spooner replied to the review by stating “Please rest assured that waitress will be sacked today”.

Where do we start? From a HR perspective, this is a nightmare of blaming instead of training, condemnation instead of evaluation. A panicky attempt to appear customer-focused has made an employer appear high-handed, irrational and deeply disloyal. The message to staff is that even after years of service they are effectively one negative comment away from the sack.

The owners of The Outside Chance were given a test, and they failed it.

How would the rest of us fare? Would you pass the TripAdvisor test?
The good news is, you don’t have to face it alone.

Employers have every right to monitor staff performance. We think they have a duty to do it, and it’s our pleasure to help them. Jane HR software enables you to record […]