Tuesday of this week was my birthday. I marked it by taking a day out of the office. Every employee who works for Benefex is given their birthday as an additional day off – it’s not taken from their annual leave allowance, it’s an additional day on top of that. We do it because we don’t believe anyone should have to work on their birthday (unless they want to!).
When I first started out working out in HR, I was told that there needed to be a policy for everything. A policy for managing absences. A policy for holidays. A policy for dress code. A policy for adverse weather. I even once wrote a policy to respond to the very specific strain of swine flu that was sweeping the nation at the time.
As exam results season draws to a close, students everywhere may be wondering quite what to do next. For some, they will have achieved their desired grades and will be off to join their university or graduate scheme of choice. But for others, the grades their tutors have told them they will need to start a successful career will not have materialised. Not everyone is academic, and not everyone passes exams.
But that doesn’t mean those people can’t be successful.
We know that culture matters. As our workplaces evolve, so too does the increasing focus we put on cultural behaviours within our organisations. When we think of our stand out performers within the business, it’s likely that the first names which come to mind are those who are vocal advocates for our culture.
I shared a LinkedIn post the other day which seemed to resonate, and so I thought I’d take the time to expand slightly on my thoughts in this blog post.
People management is made out to be some incredibly complex topic. There is realms and realms of literature written on the subject. And yet, despite this, we are all familiar with the statistics telling us that the majority of people don’t leave their job, they leave their manager.
Ask me my least favourite phrase from the world of work, and it’s a tough one. You’d have to be a considerably more tolerant person than I am not to grit your teeth when a classic such as “low hanging fruit”, “let’s take a deep dive”, or “I’m going to reach out to them” is trotted out.
However, coming in at Number 1, without a shadow of a doubt, is that all time perennial favourite: “I’m just such a People Person.”
Absence management is one of those processes that gives HR a bad name. We know that historically HR has been seen as reactive, caught up in compliance and red tape. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to absence management; there are countless examples of HR taking employees to task over their absence record, invoking disciplinary action and even dismissing individuals for the “crime” of too many days away from the office.
We are all busy. Ask any of your colleagues how they are doing: if the word ‘busy’ doesn’t feature, I’ll eat my hat. Over time, ‘busy’ seems to have become our target state at work. If we are ‘busy’, we must be delivering. Right?
One of the questions I’m most asked is how I manage to balance a full-time job with taking care of my young family. The irony of the word ‘balance’ is not lost on me, as for me it’s never been about balance. My work responsibilities don’t stop the moment I leave the office, and similarly my home life doesn’t switch off between the hours of nine and five. If you look at those individuals who are successfully combining a demanding role in the office with a demanding role at home, it’s unlikely that they’re seeking to ‘balance’ their home life against work. Success comes when we stop thinking about ‘balance’, and start thinking about ‘integration’.