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    <span class=January, 2018" />

    Having an employee return from maternity leave can sometimes be a challenge to manage if you don’t know the relevant processes and procedures. Retaining excellent, skilled staff is difficult at the best of times so making sure that you get it right with your maternity returner is important.

    A lot can change in a business in the space of a year so if you have someone away from work for a significant period of time the company may do things differently. How do you ensure that they settle back in to the business effectively?

    An employee on maternity leave is not required to warn their employer if they intend to return to work the day after maternity leave finishes. They are however, required to give 8 weeks’ notice if they want to return early.
    Ensuring that there is an effective return to work should start before the employee goes on Maternity leave. It can be a stressful time for the employee leading up to the leave and they may be anxious that their work will be covered. Knowing that there is an effective handover alleviates this concern as well as confirming with the employee how they would like to be communicated to during the maternity leave.

    Return to work briefing
    To ensure that you enable a smooth return for the maternity returner be mindful that the employee may feel overwhelmed with what may have changed in the business. Therefore, it will be a good idea to carry out a return to work briefing with anything they may have missed during their time away. There could be new systems in place or a new structure in another department that you need to make them aware of. Regular reviews within the first month would be useful.
    However, you should have already been keeping the employee up to date with company news during maternity leave (unless she has requested not to). Your employee may also have used the Keeping In Touch (KIT) days available to them. KIT days must be agreed by both the employee and the employer.

    Dealing with flexible working requests
    In our experience some managers do not manage flexible working requests well and some do not follow a formal process. Some managers think dealing with a flexible working request informally is acceptable however, there have been many occasions where managers have not had the authority to approve such requests and then have had to back track. Needless to say, this can significantly demotivate staff and increase the chances of the person leaving the business. Follow your company’s policy and procedure.
    If you are able to accommodate a flexible working request you have to be realistic regarding work load. The returning employee can’t do 40 hours in 25 hours per week.

    Policies and procedures
    It is very important to familiarise yourself with your Family Friendly Policies so that you are clear on what your responsibilities are with regards to your returning employee. When was the last time these policies were updated? At Peach we can review these for businesses for free. Well worth getting them checked to ensure legal compliance!! Have you trained staff on this? Peach can also assist with staff training.

    Risk Assessment
    In some cases you may be required to carry out a risk assessment for the returning mother if they are returning within 6 months or are still breastfeeding. It may be that the business needs to alter the employees’ working conditions, hours or offer a suitable alternative of work. Please seek advice if you are unsure what to do at this stage!

    An effective and smooth return will save companies money as it will reduce employees leaving and the need to recruit, as well as increasing employee engagement. If you have anyone about to go off on Maternity Leave get in touch on 0161 478 3800 on how we can support you.

    Christmas is over and everyone has been back at work for a few weeks. There is no money left in our bank accounts and we are all waiting for pay-day. The weight you lost in the run up to Christmas has piled on again. The weather is miserable and travelling to and from work in the dark just makes you want to curl up under the duvet to hibernate.
    It’s now Monday 15th January (aka “Blue Monday”) so how on earth are you going to boost staff morale to help them get over this gloomy time of year?

    1. Focus on employee engagement – get staff involved and ask them for their ideas to make the workplace a happier place. Communication and involvement are key to making employees feel like they are an important part of the business. If they do not understand what it is the Company is trying to achieve in the next year or they do not feel valued, why would they feel motivated or inspired to work hard and be the best they can be all year round?

    2. Create social events throughout the calendar year e.g. Breakfast catch-up meetings, regular dress down days, treat your team to lunch out as a “thank you”, organise after work drinks and get togethers.

    3. Create team building competitions – offer prizes not only to boost staff morale but also to increase sales and productivity levels.

    4. Recognise good work – always try to make a point of praising achievements and hard work or even just say “thank you” to your team. It not only makes your staff feel valued but it can have a really positive effect on productivity levels. However, make sure you don’t just focus on the positives on “Blue Monday” – endeavour to make recognition part of the culture of your company and focus on it throughout the year.

    5. Encourage a healthy lifestyle – to prevent energy levels slumping provide healthy snacks for all staff during the working day e.g. fruit, nuts, yoghurts.

    6. Encourage regular exercise breaks – during the bleak, winter months driving to and from work in the dark means that employees often see very little sunlight during their working day which can be detrimental to their health and well-being. To combat this, it is important to encourage staff to take regular breaks away from their desks to socialise with colleagues and to switch off from every day stresses. They need to get outside at lunchtime for fresh air and exercise and to capitalise on the natural daylight as well as eating a healthy, nutritious lunch. This can help to stabilise serotonin and trigger endorphin, both of which are mood-boosting hormones.

    After implementing all of the above suggestions, you may find one of your colleagues is still feeling low. Has their behaviour or attitude at work changed recently which is affecting their performance? Are they taking days off sick when they used to be a reliable employee? If so, have an informal chat with them first to make sure everything is ok. There could be something more serious affecting them than just the winter blues. Don’t just hope things will improve – take positive action.

    Call one of our HR Specialists at Peach Law for advice or assistance with any employee issues on 0161 478 3800, or alternatively email us: hello@peachlaw.co.uk

    You are not going to have all employees getting on with everyone, each person is different and behave and act in their own particular way. People have differences in many ways such as work styles, background and attitude. Clashes can stem from misunderstandings, miscommunications and different styles of communication. It is when this behaviour affects someone else it can be tricky to manage. When does it become an issue that as a business you need to deal with this effectively?

    Signs
    Obvious signs of personality clashes are public confrontations or arguments. This could be in meetings, or generally in and around the workplace there could be awkward comments. Subtle clues that may also tell you of a personality clash could be that the employee withdraws from colleagues, there could be an increase in sickness absence, the employee may display decreased motivation and there could be a drop in performance. You may hear on the grapevine of issues between 2 employees.

    Effects
    Managers should not let things fester as they are more likely to escalate. Not knowing when to step in with a clash of personalities can have damaging effects on the employees and the business;
    • Employees may suffer from stress, depression or anxiety. They may feel on a state of alert, preparing for the next time they interact with the person.
    • There could be a breakdown in working relationships.
    • It could damage productivity and cost the business money!
    • It can damage team morale.

    What can you do?
    Understanding the root cause of the clash is key, you may be able to pin point the moment the relationship started to deteriorate and work from there. It will be important to recognise signs early and be aware if a situation is brewing. A common approach to these circumstances is that the situation may seem trivial and you may think that it will sort itself out. Here are a some options for you to consider;
    • Depending on the situation have the opportunity for the employees to clear the air straight away. It is important to nip it in the bud quickly and informally.
    • Coaching/Training- in some circumstances you may need to encourage employees to learn strategies to be able to modify the way in which someone communicates.
    • Train line managers in dealing with conflict and recognising the signs, and develop effective listening skills.
    • You may need to inform the employee of their behaviour and develop an action plan.
    • Speak to both, have a chat, encourage employees to see from other people’s perspectives. Having an understanding of the issue and accepting it is a step closer to resolving the issue.

    If you are not able to resolve the issue via informal means a more formal process may need to be adopted such as Mediation. Bringing in a 3rd party mediator may able to resolve the conflict.
    You may also need to investigate more thoroughly the issue and it may lead to the disciplinary process. We would advise that you seek advice if managing it on a formal basis.

    Are you struggling with a clash of personalities in your workplace? Do you need some advice on your next steps? Please call us confidentially on 0161 478 3800 or email hello@peachlaw.co.uk.

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