Research shows that workplaces designed with employee wellbeing in mind can play a role in reducing absenteeism, improve job performance, employee motivation and help with recruitment and retention. It makes sense, given we spend more time at work in atypical day than anywhere else. We have looked at some ways you can help make your workspace a healthier, happier and more productive environment for your employees.

1.Encourage your team to move throughout the day

Various studies link regular exercise to lower absence rates and improved job performance so simple touches like encouraging employees to use the stairs by posting encouraging signs and making sure your stairwell is freshly painted and clean. If you have parking make sure there are secure spaces for bicycles, if you have the space (and budget) you could install showers and lockers so that those who walk, run, or cycle to work, or workout at lunchtimes, can have a shower. Or, find out the location of your nearest local swimming pool and encourage employees to have a swim or use the showers there at lunchtime or before starting work.

2.Make sure your office furniture provides support

Give some thought to furniture design and layout. Ensure furniture you have is ergonomic to provide adequate support when working. Make sure your employees know how to adjust their office furniture to ensure it is comfortable as well as supportive.

3.Improve the environment

Buy some office plants to cheer up desks and workspaces. Certain types of plants filter out toxins from the air and improve humidity levels as well. Make sure you address any complaints about hot and cold spots from employees by providing extra heaters and fans. Make sure your work space is well-ventilated. If you can improve the air quality then research shows productivity can improve so choose paints and carpets that don’t emit toxins and check ventilation is adequate. In most cases the landlord has lease obligations to ensure working heating and ventilation systems.

4.Check out lighting solutions

Fluorescent lighting isn’t the only choice available now for overhead lighting – check out LED systems which allow you to adjust light intensity and colour throughout the day. Provide desk/table top lighting based on tasks your employees are carrying out to help make working much easier on their eyes. If you can have some natural light in some areas all the better.

5.Encourage healthy eating

We’re not advocating a ban on chocolate but providing a bowl of fruit for your employees daily / weekly or as a monthly treat may encourage healthier eating habits. Fruit is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre and can give an immediate energy boost.

6.Have a relaxing zone

Finally, have a space for your employees to relax away from their desk with comfortable seating and USB sockets for them to charge their devices. Providing free wi-fi is an added bonus and means employees can keep up to date in their breaks.

Thanks to modern technology it is becoming increasingly easier to search and find candidates that match the skills, qualifications and experience required for a role i.e. the ‘hard skills’ but what about the so called ‘soft skills’? It’s easy to forget these hidden factors such as social cohesion, personality alignment and interpersonal value tolerances. Whilst a candidate may have the necessary hard skills to fulfil the role it is also important to find out if they have the soft skills required to fit in with your organisation’s culture.

There are a variety of personality tests available to assess candidates. At Solve. we use the Thomas International PPA test to assess candidates work behaviours. The PPA can also be used to indicate the impact that a candidate may have on an existing team i.e. what will they bring to the team and will they fit in.

By assessing soft skills as well as hard skills an organisation will benefit in a variety of ways:

1. Creates a more cohesive team that work well together.
2. Better staff retention
3. Reduced recruitment costs as result of having to recruit less frequently
4. Greater job satisfaction for employees
5. Improved efficiencies
6. Decrease in ER issues

New survey results from National Accident Helpline, a claims management company have revealed the likelihood that a person with a life-changing injury will have to leave their job.

The company’s Life-Changing Injuries Survey, carried out in September 2016, states that of those who suffered a life-changing injury, over one in five (21%) had to leave their job.

Almost half of seriously injured people (46%) were forced to make lifestyle changes, while almost a third (29%) are now registered disabled.

Group HR Director, Marcus Lamont, at National Accident Helpline, said: “It’s a shame to find out that more than one in five people with a life-changing injury have to leave their job. “This just shows how valuable it is for HR professionals to be properly trained in how to support employees who have sustained a serious injury.”

The survey builds upon data collected by the company’s Real Cost of Personal Injury Report, carried out in May 2016. This report revealed the wide-ranging issues suffered by those who had sustained a personal injury, along with the reasons for making a claim.

The Real Cost of Personal Injury Report showed that, contrary to public opinion, financial recompense was not the only reason for making a compensation claim.

Almost a third (32%) of those who made a claim said they wanted to make sure the same accident couldn’t happen to someone else.

• 47% were angry and / or frustrated with the person or company who caused their accident
• 37% were keen for the person or company at fault to acknowledge responsibility and apologise

You can find the full details of the Real Cost of Personal Injury Report, as well as their Life-Changing Injuries Survey, on the National Accident Helpline website.

National Accident Helpline’s Life-Changing Injuries Survey was carried out through Google Surveys in September 2016 and gained a total of 2,411 responses from people in the UK.

“If you know someone who’s suffered a serious or life-changing injury, National Accident Helpline’s serious injury information hub could help.”

Solve. HR are experts in having difficult employee conversations on your behalf. So what make us experts?

Here are five things you should look for in a HR expert;

1- Knowledge of Employment Law, but not just knowledge, experience of applying the Law. Anyone can read the statute or go to a mock Employment Tribunal, a true HR Expert, has proven experience of applying the legal principles in real life employee situations.

2- An expert has empathy and commerciality in equal measure. It is important to us at Solve that as HR experts, we can empathise with the journey you have been on as an entrepreneur, founder or business owner and understand the hard graft and blood sweat and tears that you have put into your business. Often this results in frustration and disappointment when an employee has then let you down. However, as an expert, empathy allows us to put the shoes on the other party’s feet and look at how we can resolve the situation and what might have motivated the behaviour in the first place. This approach solves problems.

3- A HR expert can communicate with ease and influence the situation to return the best outcome for all. HR experts should be able to relate to all types of employees by being direct, honest and even where appropriate using fun to lessen intense situations and bring perspective.

4- Both the business owners and employees should be able to feel like they can trust an HR expert. This can be a difficult balance to achieve as balancing business priorities and being the organisation’s moral compass does not always align. However, a true HR expert will manage this balance with grace and ease, whilst appreciating it is not always possible to please everyone, they will know that the ‘bigger picture’ is always the most important one for everyone involved.

5- Responsiveness- an important element of building trust and being a successful HR expert is doing what you say you will as quickly as possible. Most often ‘people issues’ are of a sensitive nature and therefore at the top of the list for employees and managers for causing the most angst. Ultimately, therefore, dealing with these issues quickly or if resolution will take some time, the HR expert should consider themselves akin to a customer services complaints executive and they should take responsibility for regularly updating management and employees on progress to assure them the issue is being dealt with.

Maintaining a healthy work life balance in any organisation is essential, however, the pace of our lives can make this difficult to achieve. Five ways that will enable employees to have a sense of wellbeing and reduce stress, whilst still maintaining high productivity levels are:

1.No More Late Nights at the Office
Research has proven that removing the company culture that celebrates employees working long-hours can help to achieve better productivity whilst assisting with individual work life balance. For instance: –

• Placing a time ban on sending emails after a certain time in the day;
• Inviting the arrival of the weekend with an early Friday finish;
• Introducing a shorter working week – Interestingly research has shown that there has been no drop in productivity yet has improved morale and staff retention.

Setting clear lines between working and personal time inevitably enhances staff productivity. However, that said, if the company is facing a surge in workload and staff are therefore required to work longer hours, it is important that they feel comfortable to ask for help along with the assistance of training opportunities for other team members, can be a good way to combat learning and delegation of unmanageable workloads.

2.Manage time spent in meetings
Attending meetings that go on longer than anticipated can often distract us from our essential day to day workload. Here’s some handy tips you can use to reduce the impact: –

• Staff can be encouraged to assess whether their attendance is absolutely necessary, or whether a post-meeting update would suffice.
• Promoting shorter concise meetings within the company will ensure that the meeting has a more direct focus.
• Changing the format of the meeting, for example asking everyone to stand, this changes the tone of the meeting and they can be kept to the point; or introducing walking meetings, which mean that the pace of the meeting is rapid and there is less need to digress.

3.Reduce the need to review emails
Studies have proven that employees have noticeably higher stress levels when using email. Here are some tips to reduce these: –

• Emails which individuals are copied into can be routed into a separate mailbox, leaving only the emails which are sent directly ‘To’ the individual in their inbox; and
• By switching emails off and scheduling a specific time in the day for them to be read, can reduce stress levels and enable employees to feel in control of their working day.

4.Eliminate distractions
There are a number of distractions in the workplace that can increase stress levels, which in turn make employees less productive. Here are some tips to reduce stress levels and increase the productivity of staff: –

• Introducing quiet working areas in the office can help those working on more contemplative tasks the option to not be distracted;
• Staff should be encouraged to turn off emails and mobile phones and disconnect from messaging and social media tools at the end of the working day; and
• Offering flexibility, such as allowing staff the option to work from home.

5.Drawing a clear line
It is important that work and personal life remain separate and the lines between the two do not begin to blur. Here’s some tips to help staff make the distinction:

• Encourage staff to leave work at work;
• Ensure that staff turn their work mobile and laptop off when work has finished for the day; and
• When an employee is on holiday or work has finished for the day, ensure that their email and remote access are configured to stop staff logging on.

To make ourselves healthier, happier and live a longer and more fulfilled life, we need to reduce our stress levels and get our lives in balance. The key is finding an appropriate amount of time for each, so that one side does not have a detrimental affect on the other.

Employer Right to Work Checks

Accurate right to work checks are mandatory if employers wish to avoid a financial penalty or, at worst, a prison sentence. Are you being compliant and getting the checks right?

The check is simple:

Obtain the individual’s original document(s) – Acceptable documents are contained within the Home Office’s guidance on right to work checks, and are updated from time to time, so always ensure that you are looking at the latest version of the guidance

Check the document(s) in the presence of the individual – You must physically hold the documents. If the document is false, you will only be liable if it is reasonably apparent that the document is false. Make sure the person in front of you is the person pictured and described in the document

Make and retain a clear copy of the document(s), including a record of the date you carried out the check – You can save the documents electronically or in hard copy, in colour or black and white. Just make sure you know where the copies can be found. There is no need to sign the copy. Copies should be kept for two years after the individual’s employment ends

If you are found to be employing an illegal worker, and you have not carried out the correct right to work checks, you could be fined up to £20,000 per illegal worker.

If you are found to have knowingly employed an illegal worker, or if you have reasonable cause to believe an individual is an illegal worker, you risk an unlimited fine and up to five years in prison.

You should ensure that your organisation has a robust process in place for carrying out right to work checks and that those responsible understand the potential consequences of getting it wrong.

Training relevant staff regularly is key. It may also be helpful to carry out an audit from time to time to ensure that your organisation is compliant.   If you require any help with this please contact Solve