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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 […]

The Apprentice

Watching Alan Sugar point the finger of destiny at a young protégé has become a beloved annual ritual for British TV audiences, and it’s been argued that Donald Trump would never have had the platform to run for President without the exposure he gained on the US Apprentice.

So when we use the word “apprentice” many people picture a brash young man or woman who spends twelve weeks singing their own praises before landing a lucrative job with a celebrity millionaire.

Kay Harriman, Hilton’s HR Director, and Kathryn Porter, the Director of Youth Strategy, have outlined ambitious and admirable plans to engage one million young people by the end of 2019, offering them an introduction to the hospitality workplace geared towards them becoming employable – and employed – in a thriving global operation. Hospitality is Britain’s sixth largest industry, and the chance to build a career with a supportive employer that has almost 600 properties in 85 countries around the world is something to shout about.

The Hilton apprenticeship puts the emphasis on personal development, and it’s not unusual for young people to progress quickly into team management. Hard and soft skills, technical ability and good personal qualities, are identified and maximised. People learn, grow and thrive.

Staff development is optimised with Jane software, with training needs flagged up from information gathered in appraisals, business plans, departmental reviews or by assigning an employee to an activity with a specific skill requirement. Employees can also log their own training requirement as a self-service request using the HR Portal, and scheduled training courses are monitored and updated to form an audited record of their progress. Jane also offers you a costing breakdown that gives you a clear picture of training […]

Just Be Yourself

The right HR software can add significant value to your recruitment procedures, and Jane Systems has spent the best part of two decades refining a module that guides you seamlessly from vacancy advertisement to interview to job offer to start and induction. People aren’t as predictable as software, though, and the path from application to employment can be a rocky one. Jane Systems offers you the tools to assess job applicants, but their interview performance is down to them. That performance can make or break their chances, and if we can do anything to help, we will.

Don’t try to style it out

Not knowing the answer to a question isn’t the end of the world. Pretending to know and trying to get away with a nonsense answer, on the other hand, is a major red flag. It’s hardly surprising. Who would you rather work with? The honest professional who admits what they don’t know and shows eagerness to learn, or the blustering chancer who’ll risk their reputation and yours?

Dignity, always dignity

We’ve all had bad managers and bad employers, but there’s a time to share the details and an interview isn’t it. Even if the person you’re talking to agrees that you have a cause for complaint, they might interpret your actions as disloyalty, excuse-making or just plain gossip. One of the key tasks of the interviewee is to present themselves as a trustworthy team player.

 

What was the company name again?

You don’t have to fawn all over the person who’s interviewing you, in fact you really shouldn’t, but it’s wise to do your homework on them, their position in the organisation and, most importantly, on the organisation itself. Employers like people who come to work in […]

Going Through the Motions

Obviously we’d all prefer to avoid both scenarios, but there are few things more frustrating than seeing a capable person twiddling their thumbs instead of making the contribution they ought to make.

At a time when surveys warn us of a slump in employee engagement, apathy issues are business-critical. How do we spot them, and how do we turn apathy into commitment?

Passing the Buck?

If an employee fails to deliver to an acceptable standard and within an acceptable timescale, there might be a reasonable explanation. If it becomes a pattern, though, you have to ask why. Where people are genuinely over-burdened, we can act to give them support and relief. Where they are simply not prepared to make the effort to get things done, though, we need to take a different view. One of the biggest giveaways is eagerness to point the finger at others. We all know how it feels to be up against a stiff and immovable deadline. If our colleagues face the same challenges and meet them, that gives us nowhere to hide. Simple pride in performance should spur us to fulfil our part of the bargain. In a team of equally capable, equally busy professionals, the one who passes the buck is the one whose commitment is flagging.

It’s Good to Talk

Let’s start with the assumption that we all see the value of knowledge-sharing and general communication in the workplace. Teams that win together tend to win far more often, and it’s always good to see people from one department taking pleasure in the success of their colleagues in another. Encouraging people to see where they fit in and how they contribute to the “big picture” is a crucial element of team-building, and […]

These Kids Today

Has it?

As we work our way up the ladder to a position of workplace seniority, there are landmark moments we can all recognise. The day we realise we’re not the new kid any more and we actually know what we’re doing. The day other people start asking our advice. The first time we get promoted. The first time we recruit for new staff.

That last one is big. Bringing new people in, perhaps to do a job we once did ourselves, is a serious responsibility. We may wish to be seen as a mentor, a wise elder by this newcomer. How should we react when they not only reject our wisdom but set out their stall for a better offer than we were planning to make, and a far better offer than we ever got?

Some people react less equitably than others.

Doing this at all is questionable; it may encourage realism in future applicants but it’s hardly likely to spark enthusiasm. The real issue, though, was how personally the hiring manager was taking it and how subjectively he was judging the application.

He requested to be paid $40 an hour to which I replied, ‘The most I pay anyone initially is $20 until I can trust them

When I was 24, I worked 20-40 hours a week as an intern with no pay.

The applicant chose not to pursue things any further, and the recruiter was wounded. Perhaps he wanted to take this talented young person under his wing, show him the value of trust and experience and finally give him the career path and the money he sought. But he wanted to give it as his gift and the applicant believed their talent merited it as a […]

Knowing Me, Knowing You

There are many things a recruiter looks for in a job applicant, and one thing that consistently impresses interviewers is evidence that the person in front of them has done their homework. Not just on the specifics of a job role but also on the wider organisation.

And, frankly, it’s negligent when they don’t.

In a sense, every job is a customer service job and every employee is an ambassador for the organisation that pays their wages. It’s a lot easier to positively represent your employer when you understand what they do, where they are heading and how they plan to get there.

It’s also a lot easier to motivate and engage a workforce when you understand what makes them tick. A thorough recruitment process will paint a useful picture of the person you’re hiring, not just the skillset they bring. Following through with smooth onboarding and tailored training and development brings your people closer to the heart of your business. It brings them closer not just to understanding your core values but embodying them.

Jane Systems take pride in knowing our clients and our markets. Last month we carried out a survey of target clients in the public and private sectors; organisations we don’t currently work with but hope to be supporting in 2018.

73% of employees didn’t know what was in their employer’s mission statement, or if they had one

55% of employees weren’t able to name three of their employer’s core values

42% of employees didn’t know if their organisation had offices in other countries

68% of managers didn’t know for sure what motivated the people in their teams, either personally or professionally

61% of managers didn’t consider reviewing the skills of internal candidates before placing a vacancy with a […]

Part of the Team

The World of Learning conference is an annual highlight, not only for education professionals but for anyone with an interest in staff development. Among the themes of this year’s event at the NEC, one stood out:

An alarming number of people quit new jobs within the first week, and many more decide very quickly that their new company isn’t a long-term option. To quote the CIPD:
“Even when people stay for a year or more, it is often the case that their decision to leave sooner rather than later is taken in the first weeks of employment”

Sometimes people just don’t fit. It’s nobody’s fault, and the sooner a square peg is prised out of a round hole, the better it is for all concerned. But how many people walk away from something that could have developed into a rewarding personal and professional experience simply because they weren’t made to feel welcome?

Without a tailored induction, new employees can find themselves in a position where they never fully understand the business they’re working for or their role within it. They may never fully integrate into their team or the wider company, they may never reach the level of creativity or productivity they’re capable of, and as frustration mounts they may well put down their tools, switch off their computer and walk out of the door, never to return.

What are we hoping to gain from an employee induction? The best HR and training practitioners we’ve worked with all say the same thing.

That’s a lot easier to accomplish when the hiring process is seamless and transparently fair, and employee onboarding is swift. Jane’s recruitment software actively supports more efficient onboarding. To take one example, new employee records […]

The £13 Million Question

Thriving SMEs are crucial to economic success and at a time when business confidence seems to be fluctuating, Britain’s entrepreneurs need to maximise their opportunities. In a recent report, the Lloyds Bank Business in Britain review indicated that confidence among SMEs had grown in the first half of 2017. Their “confidence index” measuring expectations of sales and profits rose by 10%, but there was a downside. Over 50% of companies surveyed now say they are struggling to hire skilled employees.

The CIPD have a solution. They want to expand their People Skills Initiative. This scheme has provided a sample group of employers with free part-time HR support, and in many cases it’s laid the foundation for success. In Glasgow, 400 small companies were aided with such good results that the city council kept funding the programme after the trial run ended. Measurable improvements in employee relations, productivity and bottom line profit all tell the same positive story.

To make this a UK-wide initiative would cost £13 million a year. Will the money be found?

We admire the CIPD’s efforts and our systems dovetail perfectly with their initiatives. The Jane solution is tried and tested, and won’t cost anyone £13 million.

The Jane Recruitment and Staff Development Modules offer a complete lifecycle solution allowing teams of any size to streamline their hiring processes. Cutting edge skill-matching software fits job applicants to your business needs, delivering tailored analysis of external and internal candidates. If they can do the job, we help you find them.

The Jane Self-Service Portal has been praised by clients across all sectors as a tool that actively encourages employees to take responsibility for their working lives, leading to an increase in training activity, […]

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 […]

Britain’s Got Talent

How can we compete as an economy?

How can you compete as an employer?

These questions are of course closely intertwined. And while the answers may not always be simple, one fact holds true. For all the external factors that influence our fate, in the end we need to make the best use of the talent available to us. Recent surveys indicate pessimism in the business community. Not because we lack innovation or entrepreneurial spark, but because we may lack enough suitably skilled and qualified people to convert that spark into profit.

This week saw the publication of a revealing CBI report. Three quarters of employers expect their need for high level skills to increase notably in the coming years, but a majority doubt that job applicants will meet that need. In addition, 42% were dissatisfied with the business acumen of their graduate recruits, while 33% were unhappy with the attitudes, behaviours and character displayed in the workplace.

The rise of artificial intelligence is forecast to make a wide variety of roles obsolete, but the need for game-changing human talent will only intensify.

No service partner can wave a magic wand and change the nature of the job market, but the best service partners can give you a serious competitive edge. When there’s a shortage of talent, your recruitment and onboarding procedures need to be pin-sharp. That’s where Jane Systems comes in.

Jane recruitment software delivers your best chance of securing the best available talent. It enables the widest possible sourcing of applicant details, the most precise skill-matching and a tailored suitability analysis of internal and external candidates.

With legal compliance an ongoing priority, Jane recruitment software sets your mind at rest with equal opportunity reporting built in as […]