Did you know that 2nd February was ‘National Sickie Day’ in the UK? How did that affect you? Well here are my 7 Steps to reducing absenteeism to help in the battle against lost time –

IT IS known that the first Monday in February sees an estimated 350,000 British workers take a not-entirely-justified day off sick. For some it’s to attend an interview to fulfil that New Year’s Resolution to change jobs, for others it’s to beat the January blues. Either way their absence causes issues to any business be they big or small so here are my 7 steps to help reduce absenteeism

  1. Record It

Even the simple task of logging how many days are lost, by whom and when will help your business understand not only if you have a bigger attendance problem, but also if there are any key culprits and help establish a potential cost to your business of those lost days.

  1. Have an Absence Policy

This will formalise the company’s expectations in terms of reporting procedures, payment terms, what constitutes ‘excessive’ to you, and what actions will be taken in those circumstances.

  1. Carry out return to work interviews after EVERY sickness absence

After periods of absence these return to work interviews allow you to determine whether an employee has any underlying concerns, whether there is a pattern to their absence or if absent for a longer period whether they ae able to return to their duties and if modifications to their duties are required.  It also sends a clear message you take absence seriously. Imagine, if it was just a sickie, having to sit down with your line manager to ‘explain/excuse’ your absence! A return to work interview will also assist in an effective return to work and will help you determine if you need to consider disciplinary action (this may depend on the employee’s record).

  1. Consider alternative ways of working

With the technological advances today we have the ability to allow certain individuals to work online/remotely if, for instance, they have cold like symptoms. This makes complete sense from both the employee’s and the employer’s point of view; the employee is able to work from the comfort of their own home and doesn’t have to commute when they feel under the weather but are well enough to still contribute, and the business reduces the chances of the cold/flu spreading as well as not losing a worker to sickness.

  1. Ask leavers to identify problems

Do an exit interview when your employee leaves the company – when they have achieved that new role they went sick for the interview 😉 – to help identify any issues that are making your team members unhappy as disengaged unmotivated employees take more sick days. Those leaving are more likely to be honest in such chats if they are leaving the company anyway.

  1. Foster a culture of open communication

When your employee feels a sense of responsibility for their work and loyalty to their team, they’re much less likely to phone in sick on a whim because they don’t want to let their colleagues or your clients down. The idea is that they become more willing to talk openly to their manager if they have a health issue to ask for support from the company and understanding from their peers.

  1. Encourage work-life balance

By providing your managers with training in how to support your staff to achieve a more positive work-life balance you can help combat absenteeism. Additionally you must ensure that employees are aware of policies and programs available to help with work-life balance.

So how would you suggest tackling sickness absence in the workplace? For more help and advice contact us at www.threedomsolutions.co.uk or follow us on twitter @3domSolutions


WHEN I worked in corporate world I used to dread the holiday season. I was guaranteed to be embroiled in some disciplinary matters after the company office shenanigans turned sour. The grabbing of the Training Manager by one of the engineers for a snog on the dance floor, the lusty glances of two married (to other people) co-workers turning into something more and being caught in flagrante in the cupboard, or the fisty cuffs after one too many beers! Yep that’s right; the snog, marry, avoid consequences of what you all think is just a harmless opportunity to mingle.

a christmas snog

According to an Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) survey of UK managers and workers

  • Almost 9 out of 10 workers (87 percent) have seen colleagues drink too much
  • And 48 percent have gone to work with a hangover after their office party

So please (and I hate to be the ‘bah humbug’ amongst you all but…) take the opportunity NOW to set the parameters for the party and give clear guidelines to all your staff of expectations.

  1. It’s a ‘work party’ therefore they are effectively at work – let them know that work related social functions such as the Christmas party/lunch can be an extension of the workplace and the same standards of behaviour expected. Telling your HR Director she’s a ‘heartless unfeeling machine’ as you walk out into the cold night air will get you into bother! (yes someone really did that!)
  2. Brief out the absence procedures – tell them up front what will happen if they pull a sickie to recover from that handover.
  3. Remind the staff of your social media policy – inappropriate pictures hash tagged with the company name can cause reputational embarrassment, not to mention the potential harassment fall out from the object of that tweet/Facebook post!
  4. Ensure your disciplinary procedure is up to date – it needs to be clear on what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour and ensure when applying it you are consistent.
  5. Make sure everyone knows the Bullying and Harassment policy – a small reminder that offensive behaviour on the grounds of sex, race, age, sexual orientation, disability or religion and belief won’t be excused just because it happens at the party won’t go amiss. I was unfortunate to have to deal with a name calling incident between two colleagues – one thought it just a laugh, the other took real offence so it’s wise to make sure people know to check themselves.
  6. And with that in mind remind all of the drink/drive limits – and if they are not driving, just remind them again it’s an office function and being drunk drunk drunk may impact how people perceive them the next day – pointing and sniggering as they walk into the office is hardly career enhancing is it?

I have to admit it’s rare I get drunk at such an event; after all I’m just as likely to tell the staff what I think of them! So with a few up front actions you could prevent the post party disciplinary hangover.

zero hours

Further consultation on Zero Hours Contracts

The Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Bill 2014 introduces (amongst other things) measures aimed at prohibiting the use of exclusivity clauses within ‘zero hours contracts’ – in other words, clauses which would prohibit zero hours employees from holding down more than one job. But the draft legislation does not prohibit other action intended to deter staff from seeking other work – for example, subjecting the worker to a detriment if they seek employment elsewhere. The proposed rules might therefore prove to be toothless in practice. The government has now recognised this problem. It has begun consultation on what anti-avoidance measures may be required.

Views are being sought on the following issues:

• the tactics employers are thought likely to adopt to circumvent a ban on exclusivity clauses;

• whether the government should do more to deal with potential avoidance, how that might be best achieved, and whether the government should legislate now or wait for evidence of whether avoidance is taking place;

• how potential avoidance could be dealt with;

• whether there should be consequences for an employer if they circumvent a ban on exclusivity clauses and, if so, what those consequences should be; and

• whether there are any potentially negative or unintended consequences as a result of the wording of the legislation.

If you would like assistance understanding zero hours contracts, please feel free to contact me at info@threedomsolutions.co.uk

(or them!)

I just wanted to add my 10 pence worth of guidance to help my clients through these ‘interesting’ few days (can you tell from my tone I’m not the greatest football fan in the world!?)

With stats stating between 2.5 and 3 million working days being lost as a result of this global event we can’t ignore it (try as I might). So a few bullet points below

    • Flexible Approach?
      • Consider allowing shift swaps, short notice holidays or flexible working arrangements where they can make up their hours. Can you rota people to take turns?
    • Outfit & Behaviour Expectations?
      • Will you allow football shirts in customer facing roles? Remind your staff of the ‘being under the influence of drink or drugs at work’ rules, and remind them of what they can and can’t do on social media
    • Opportunity to treat staff?
      • Have you thought of treating this as an employee incentive? Giving them an extra couple of hours off if they do x, y or z?
    • Treatment?
      • Make sure you treat all requests for time off etc fairly and equally so you don’t fall foul of any of the ‘Protected Characteristics’ such as race (England vs Croatia games for instance) Sex (a man can have the time but you refuse a woman) or age (letting a younger man have the time to go to the pub with his footie team, but not an older man have time to go play golf) to give just a couple of (extreme) examples
    • Betting?
      • Will you allow sweepstakes, what are your rules about cash handling on site?
    • Absence policy?
      • Do your staff know what your policy is? Do they know to call in sick and by when, and the consequences if they do so? You should tell them that absences during World Cup will be closely monitored and any employee found to have flouted the rules could face disciplinary action. Manage it carefully
    • Live games?
      • Will you allow streaming through the computers, radios to be blaring out or even provide TVs in work areas? Your choice but think about it now and set the expectations
    • Last but not least – Enjoy!

At least most matches are after ‘normal working hours’ unlike in 2002, when games in Japan and South Korea were played in the morning before working hours, which might have added to poor attendance and lateness.  Yes it might encourage staff to disappear early or arrive late to work the next day after a heavy night, but with the help of the above you should be ready for it.

Now – who’s with me and cheering for Scotland? (She says hiding behind the sofa from her Scottish hubby who didn’t find that funny)

I think this is a timely reminder from Macroberts LLP regarding ours ability to express ourselves via the magic that is twitter. I am an avid tweeter, but have always managed to draw the line – here’s why


In a fresh warning to be careful what you post online, this week saw two individuals plead guilty to sending threatening tweets to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez. Isabella Sorley, 23 and John Nimmo, 25, from Newcastle and South Shields respectively, pled guilty in Westminster Magistrates Court to sending messages of a menacing character by a public electronic communications network, contrary to the Communications Act 2003. Sentencing will take place later this month with Sorley being remanded in custody until such time; Nimmo received bail.

Caroline Criado-Perez was subjected to the online abuse following her successful campaign to have Jane Austen appear on the new £10 bank notes. The campaign was prompted by the Bank of England’s announcement that Winston Churchill would be replacing Elizabeth Fry, the only female presence on bank notes, on the new £5 notes. The announcement of the campaign’s success was hailed “a brilliant day for women” by Criado-Perez, however others were less than impressed… Criado-Perez was subsequently subjected to a barrage of abusive tweets to her Twitter account including threats of rape and violence.

This week’s events follow previous similar instances which highlight that online abuse will not be taken lightly and could result in criminal action. Notably a 17 year old was arrested in summer 2012 following abusive tweets sent to Tom Daley after he failed to win a medal in the 10 metre synchronised diving event at the London Olympics. Abuse including claims Daley had let his late father down and threats of drowning resulted in the responsible tweeter receiving a harassment warning.

Under s127 of the Communications Act 2003, the sending by means of a public electronic communications network of a message or other matter which is offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing is an offence which could result in up to 6 months imprisonment or a fine of up to £5000. Clearly individuals should not presume that they can hide behind their computer should they choose to post abuse online…

MacRoberts offers comprehensive training on social media and the law.

© MacRoberts LLP 2014
The material contained in this e-update is of the nature of general comment only and does not give advice on any particular matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Too busy working?


make a life

I left ‘corporate world’ to work for myself, to gain some control over who I work with and what I work on.  I did it to start to enjoy a subject that I actually love – yes I LOVE HUMAN RESOURCES! yes really.  A side effect was that I would get some more time at home, some time to focus on me and some time to, well, just be.

However the world of Threedom Solutions has gone a bit mad since I made the leap. I am on a client site pretty much every day between now and Christmas, whilst also supporting those clients that I am not with on an evening and from afar.

Hummm now what was I saying about ‘time’??

It’s a precious commodity and one I need to regain a focus on, and I fear this will strike a chord in many of you out their who work for themselves – it’s a fine balance between making hay while the sun shines and actually enjoying the scenery whilst you’re in the sunshine.

Pause for thought…

1st impressions

I had cause to revisit this this week listening to my business partner who had suffered at the hands of a series of ineffectual hotel receptionists in Harrogate, who’s customer service was the very last thing on their minds.

On being presented with a key that would not open the door she had hoped for some more assistance than just repeatedly being told to come down to reception – the further point from her room, and get a new key, rather than send someone to help. On top of that there were the chocolates laid out on the table to ‘Ralf’ wishing him a good night sleep from Stuart! had she been given the wrong room in the first place? Well the receptionist were quick enough to come and collect those and find Ralf – maybe they liked him more than her!?  The refusal to acknowledge that the issue was actually theirs, and that her key would not work just staggered her, and me on the retelling, even more so as it was a 4* establishment #sigh

We all know first impressions count so much when competition is so great, it’s these little things that can put you off doing further business or going back again. Selecting the right person for each position within your company is imperative, but the receptionist is probably one of the most crucial. When current or potential customers/guests come to you the first person to greet them is that receptionist.

They create the first impression of your business, whether it’s good or bad, so it’s important to choose the right receptionist for your company’s image. So what do we suggest to help you ensure your reception team creates that crucial first impression?

1.​Brand awareness – make sure they know what image you wish them to portray and ensure they remain ‘on message’.

2.​Clarify their role – Do they know what their duties actually are, not what they might have become? The receptionist’s duties include acting as an ambassador by welcoming people, screening phone calls, setting appointments, and directing client traffic throughout the work day, changing keys!

3.​Keep them busy – Give them the tools to do their job and keep them busy, but not so busy the customer service is lost.  If they have nothing to do they should be aware they need to get something to do! You should ensure they see if other co-workers need assistance etc. In ‘corporate world’ I discovered one of our receptionists doing a cross word under the desk during ‘down time’. If they genuinely have nothing to do maybe it’s time to re-engineer the role to add to it, or restructure the cover arrangements?

4.​Explain communication expectations – It’s about having diplomacy and proper etiquette. Not being overly familiar, but being polite and courteous. Telephones should be answered politely with a standard greeting such as “Good Morning, thank you for calling our company, how may I help you?’. As soon as someone enters they should direct their attention to them, immediately, and give them a pleasant greeting, and an expectation of when that customer will be dealt with if things are busy.

Often we forget just how important these roles are in the company, and how critical their impact is on the future of our business.

Is it time to assess the first impressions made by all your front line roles, be they reception staff, customer service operatives or your sales teams?  Maybe it’s time to consider some secret shopping of your own to evaluate their impact and implement development plans to give you that competitive edge?

Saw this and laughed out loud as I prep for our free ‘Developing Personal Resilience’ seminar on Wednesday 6th November in Leeds

ScreenHunter_01 Oct. 21 06.52

It sums up beautifully what some companies feel about the ‘P’ word – Pressure.

They often discard it and dismiss it, ignore it or misinterpret it and that leads to all sorts of other issues. But lets remember there are valid business reasons as to why we should actually do something about pressure before it leads to the ‘S’ word of Stress – here’s just a few

  • improved staff commitment, performance, productivity, recruitment and retention.
  • supporting the legal duty to be pro-active and to take the initiative rather than simply adopting a re-active approach.
  • improved morale and so reduced absence levels and employee turnover
  • Cash flow through less/zero claims

Join us at our seminar to discover the legal reasons why we should support our staff, some more HR assistance and suggestions and get some top personal tips on how to handle it

book here http://www.threedomsolutions.co.uk/contact-form/booking.php?id=8


i love my job

SO, WHY is it important to have engaged and satisfied staff?  Surely, we should simply be happy to allow our staff to come to work and be grateful that they bother to do any? We’re the ones who need the staff, so should we care if they care?

But we should work out whether our staff want to come to work and, if not, then work out how we can change and reengage them?

In the ‘corporate world,’ I had the good fortune to come across a great motivating model courtesy of a company called Digital Opinion.  It’s called the Employee Engagement Matrix. It’s a fabulous little four box matrix that splits your staff into one of four categories. Picture it if you will (because this online format doesn’t work with pictures!) Bottom left is labelled ‘disaffected’, next to it to the right is ‘uncommitted’, top left’s label is ‘frustrated’ and top right is the magical ‘engaged’. The higher the job satisfaction and commitment to the company (the axis) the more engaged they become.

So let’s look at this in more detail. Imagine this is your team – for demonstration purposes, let’s say you have 20 people in that team. Have a think in percentage terms how many of your staff sit in any one of these boxes?  Then think about how that would affect your team’s morale, productivity, cohesion and success?

Say you had 20% disaffected, that’s four people – they are negative both in terms of job satisfaction and commitment to the company. They make minimal contribution, will have a negative impact on their colleagues, or leave the company.  If they were in your team they would be black balling your every idea and actively blocking progress.

What about another 70% either ‘frustrated’, who are committed to you company but get little satisfaction from their work, or ‘uncommitted’ – they take satisfaction from the work they do but have little sense of commitment to the company – how will those 14 people slow you down?

This would leave us with a measly 10% potentially all fired up and raring to go; two of your team, yes just two and I bet you could name both of them now? That’s a very small number of staff to be relying on, at this a time when you need all hands to the pump.

Research shows companies who have a higher engagement are more likely to perform better.  Addressing your staff engagement and doing something about it is not a ‘nice to do’, nor a ‘fluffy HR thing’, there are valid business reasons for seeking and achieving this key area as listed below:

  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Higher motivation
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Less staff turnover
  • More productive employees
  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Open and honest Culture
  • A generally happier environment
  • Better informed
  • Ability to react to change

So how can you improve your engagement?

Energy – you need to bring the energy back to the business – companies have spent the last few years focusing on revenues, for very valid reasons, and often under constant change management. It’s time to invigorate

Be consistent – create the message and follow through

Communicate – make sure the staff know what you are trying to do and why. Share the successes and mistakes. Make sure that commitment to this goal is understood throughout the company, practiced by all and committed to.

Ensure you achieve some quick wins as Dr John Kotter, a professor at the Harvard Business School, a well known author and authority on leadership and change would advocate. This could be just a few ‘gimmies’ – short positive messages to show a desire and commitment from the top to take action and drive you forward with focus and commitment.

These changes need to form part of your culture – you must create ownership of the changes and with that accountability.  It’s about people, your staff and ensuring they are enabled to, and actually want to, do their best work. Its basic human motivation – give them an aim and direction and see how your staff will attach themselves to that aim, your desire to improve their commitment and focus to their benefit and that of the company.

So, what percentage of your staff are truly in the engaged box, and what are you going to do about getting more of the team to join them?

To see the matrix in all its glory please click on digital opinion employee engagement matrix

Right and wrong

I had reason to ponder this again last week; to be honest I must ponder it every week, but last week especially. I was instructed by a Managing Director of a company to do something. I wasn’t comfortable about doing it, tried to explain and reason why it was the wrong thing to do and was still told to do it anyways.  So I did. And it went wrong. As I knew it would.

Now I could have jumped up and down and shouted ‘wah hoo’ and run around screaming ‘I told you so’ but instead I reminded myself of the above, parked it and tried to move on.

Now I just await the tribunal papers!


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