Select Page

at the core of your business

Just starting out or an established business with plans for growth or change?

We will provide you with counsel and advice during your business journey.

dna hr – getting to the heart of the matter

A series of thought-provoking insights and practical tips from seasoned professionals on how to navigate through the people challenges facing business today. We welcome dialogue with current and potential clients, so please feel free to get in touch.

contact dna hr

info@dnahr.uk
mandatory vaccinations - managing the reality before fixing the policy

Qustion 1: Can I make it mandatory for all my employees to provide vaccination certificates by way of ensuring I am complying with Health and Safety provisions in the UK, and to be able to afford the best protection for all my employees and clients safety and well-being?

Answer 1: As this is fairly new territory for both employees and employers alike, there is unfortunately no real legal precedent on which employers and their legal counsel can look to for guidance on this topic. It is likely to present many challenges in the workplace whilst we navigate through the next few months, (perhaps years), learning to manage with COVID 19 in the workplace. It is more than likely that in certain circumstances, social care being a good example, employers and their legal counsel may elect to mandate that vaccination certificates will be required either for new employees or those already working in similar environments where higher exposure to infection is likely.

Qustion 2: Why don’t I simply insist that every employee has a vaccination certificate? Surely keeping my employees and clients safe should be my number one priority?

Answer 2: There are a variety of reasons why employers need to think carefully about what actions to take if individual employees decide not to accept a vaccination that they have been offered. These include direct and indirect discrimination e.g, pregnant women are currently not being given the vaccine, and the govt and society as whole are aware that some ethnic minorities and religious groups have a relatively low uptake of vaccinations. In addition, managing GDPR issues relating to information requested, obtained, and stored on employee medical data could be a potential legal quagmire.

Qustion 3: If I decide that mandatory vaccination is the right approach in my particular circumstances, how should I approach this to mitigate any potential legal issues with employees?

Answer 3: Continual engagement with your employees is key. Discussions around suitable alternative work may be a solution, e.g. finding a new role which lessens physical contact for those who either cannot or will not have a vaccination.
Careful thought must always be given to any stance you as an employer decide to take, particularly in untested circumstances where a reasonable ‘needs must’ approach may be the only option. Nonetheless, taking the ultimate step of restricting your talent pool because of your mandatory vaccination requirements, and potentially terminating contracts of employment, could have profound and lasting repercussions for your business.

mandatory vaccinations - managing the reality before fixing the policy

Qustion 1: Can I make it mandatory for all my employees to provide vaccination certificates by way of ensuring I am complying with Health and Safety provisions in the UK, and to be able to afford the best protection for all my employees and clients safety and well-being?

Answer 1: As this is fairly new territory for both employees and employers alike, there is unfortunately no real legal precedent on which employers and their legal counsel can look to for guidance on this topic. It is likely to present many challenges in the workplace whilst we navigate through the next few months, (perhaps years), learning to manage with COVID 19 in the workplace. It is more than likely that in certain circumstances, social care being a good example, employers and their legal counsel may elect to mandate that vaccination certificates will be required either for new employees or those already working in similar environments where higher exposure to infection is likely.

Qustion 2: Why don’t I simply insist that every employee has a vaccination certificate? Surely keeping my employees and clients safe should be my number one priority?

Answer 2: There are a variety of reasons why employers need to think carefully about what actions to take if individual employees decide not to accept a vaccination that they have been offered. These include direct and indirect discrimination e.g, pregnant women are currently not being given the vaccine, and the govt and society as whole are aware that some ethnic minorities and religious groups have a relatively low uptake of vaccinations. In addition, managing GDPR issues relating to information requested, obtained, and stored on employee medical data could be a potential legal quagmire.

Qustion 3: If I decide that mandatory vaccination is the right approach in my particular circumstances, how should I approach this to mitigate any potential legal issues with employees?

Answer 3: Continual engagement with your employees is key. Discussions around suitable alternative work may be a solution, e.g. finding a new role which lessens physical contact for those who either cannot or will not have a vaccination.
Careful thought must always be given to any stance you as an employer decide to take, particularly in untested circumstances where a reasonable ‘needs must’ approach may be the only option. Nonetheless, taking the ultimate step of restricting your talent pool because of your mandatory vaccination requirements, and potentially terminating contracts of employment, could have profound and lasting repercussions for your business.

return to work - tips for managing talent post covid

From the virtual space to the actual place – Managing the transition from the home office to the physical workplace

As most employers are feeling optimistic about their employees returning to the workplace at some point in 2021, the effective management of that transition should now be at the forefront of the Senior Leadership Agenda.

Outlined below is a short summary of considerations that the CEO’s and Senior Leadership teams might contemplate in informing their Talent Management Strategy during this period of transition for their employees and their business as a whole:

  • Managing any employee requests for some form of home working, whilst current research appears to indicate most virtual workers do want to return to the workplace, there will be undoubtedly a foray of requests to work at home a few days per week.
  • Many employees will have found working at home stressful. In recognition of this employers should be reviewing their current arrangements for providing support for their employees e.g.
    • making sure that there is some support for employee well-being.
    • putting in place an employee assistance programme or enhancing the existing one.
    • facilitating employee well-being sessions run by mental health professionals.
    Interventions like this can and will provide support for employees who may be struggling with mental health issues.
  • Upskilling of certain employees, where some skills have been lost or the “brave new world of work” has necessitated the need for employees to have different skills sets.
  • Using pre-return work employee feedback mechanisms to better understand what employees are expecting the workplace environment to be like on their return.
  • Conducting return to work discussions with employees, where any potential issues can be identified and resolved with line management support.
  • Putting some investment into team and individual development which may have taken a back seat during the pandemic – e.g. coaching and mentoring the new and inexperienced manager
  • Adopting a flexible approach to employee requests to change working arrangements for a reasonable period post pandemic while employees are adjusting to getting back into work after furlough or working from home.
return - case study comms and leadership challenges

Post Lockdown Challenges: Communications, Engagement and Change

A Pharmaceutical Client had furloughed most of its employees during the first lockdown and by mid to late summer 2020 were ready to bring back employees to the workplace. They wanted to create new momentum within the business and increase employee engagement after the enforced absence from the workplace.

Leadership Interventions

The Leadership Team, supported by DNA HR undertook a short engagement employee survey to solicit and canvass the views of employees on the following themes:

  • How the furlough process was managed
  • How the business communicated with employees during the period of furlough
  • On their return to work was the process of them returning managed well
  • Were there any concerns about the ongoing health and safety provisions in place regarding COVID 19
  • Employee feedback on how the employees felt about their future in the company.
  • How well did the company recognise and reward employees?
  • How employees saw career development and learning and development in the company

In addition to the employee feedback process, the CEO, supported by DNA, organised a “Town Hall” briefing event. The event afforded the employees an opportunity to gain some valuable insight from the Chairman of the Board, and the CEO as to what plans were in place to take maximum competitive advantage of the many opportunities that existed within the pharmaceutical sector in 2021 and beyond.

As a result of compilation of the confidential employee responses managed by DNA and feedback from the “Town Hall” briefing, the company elected to take several actions and measures to enhance employee engagement in the company which included:

  • Roll out of new employee handbook to all employees.
  • Enhancement of maternity pay and leave provisions
  • Creation of focus group on defining and agreeing company values and culture
  • Enhancement of anti-social working premia
  • Development of online learning portal
  • Agreement on yearly employee feedback process
  • New performance review process to be conducted on a quarterly basis that better met employee aspirations and expectations

Conclusion: Employee engagement during and after major disruption is important to regain lost momentum. Employee engagement in ‘normal’ times is essential for the health of the business and creating momentum in the first place.

from tiers to tears

A love hate relationship with remote management – how I missed the point, missed opportunities, and made far too many assumptions. Is there still a case for face to face???

Situation: A ZOOM team meeting, 5 minutes before the remote team members you manage are due to arrive for the fortnightly virtual communications meeting. This will be the fifth of such gatherings.

Your objective: Keeping on top of what is happening in the business and telling the team what it needs to do.

Scene 1 (you): A bedroom somewhere, mid-afternoon. In the background, a loosely made bed, a small bookshelf with coffee cup and a newish copy of ‘How to Manage and Lead’ on show. There is a curious cat in the room, and a washing machine can be heard whirring away. A delivery courier is due in the 2-6 pm time slot. Children will arrive back from school in approximately 25 minutes time. Internet connection excellent, but shared with the other half who is also W-F-H. Other things to do?- decorating, gardening. You are wearing yesterday’s T shirt and haven’t combed your hair.

Scene 2: A small flat, mid-afternoon. In the background a tiny kitchen, a bottle of expensive looking wine and various cookery books. There are no signs of other occupants, the walls are bare except for a group photo of a sports team which is covered in floury fingerprints.

Scene 3: An apparently large garage, a bit dark, small blow heater on the shelf behind. 2 other computer screens and a very large television. A large poster is visible ‘Craft Beer or tea? Ready Brewed or Stewed? – No contest’.

Scene 4: Small room, white walls, stark light, no pictures, one small window, sports drink on show, bicycle leaning against a wall. Screen switches to an exotic beach background when meeting starts.

Scene 5: Laptop perched on small round wooden table, outside favourite, but closed coffee shop, pedestrians passing by, ash tray full. It looks cold.

Personal context: you are happy working from home in your own private space, except sometimes others in the house get in the way a bit. Occasionally you get side-tracked. Your mood is usually positive, but dark winter mornings get you down sometimes.

Team context: You think the virtual team meetings work well especially as there is a fixed regular time slot and running the meeting is easier – “we don’t get distracted as we used to”. You are pleased the new team member has fitted in well. They haven’t met anyone yet, but haven’t complained, – and they smile a lot. Team relationship issues seem to have gone away or at least, improved. You keep with the theme “we’re all in this together so let us all pull together keeping focused and motivate. All for one and one for all”. Salary review is overdue, but HR will deal with that other issues.

Meeting preparation: You use the fixed regular agenda as usual starting with an update on the figures. Team members will then give their updates. AOB requires advance notification.

Visual experience: everybody seems OK on screen, some more scruffy than others, interesting hair. Zoom is fine, as long as everybody puts their hands up to speak – sometimes discussion is hampered by technology and disrupted by domestic issues. Overall though, you think this is a great way to keep the business ticking over and will definitely look for more home working in future.

Engagement: Some stay on mute, but when talking it is the usual dominance of certain individuals. Eye contact is all over the place. Interruptions or talking over each other is followed by uncomfortable silence and uncertain facial expressions. Quite a few ‘toilet breaks’ occur and there are unexplained short term blank screens or empty chairs.

hr has a critical role in these remote working times

The coronavirus outbreak means many will be working from home, so people teams must communicate more carefully with staff and help leaders manage performance.

Remote working over the last few months has changed from a unique feature of forward-thinking offices and a ‘nice to have’ for some workers, into a necessity for business continuity and a clear recommendation from public health bodies.

For some companies this is already firmly embedded in the culture. But for many it will be a bit of a shock to the system. While digital communications are readily available they have been adopted in many companies in either a half-hearted or a laissez-faire way. If your business hasn’t been developing its digital communications, the coronavirus outbreak will have made this a near-term necessity. Here are some key recommendations:

Structure communication

Remote working does not mean people are sent home to fend for themselves. The most effective programmes have clearly structured communication channels and schedules. For example, team meetings might be scheduled weekly or fortnightly. Generally, one-to-ones with managers may be monthly or quarterly. But with those who are new to remote work, more regular check-ins and conversations may be helpful.

Think of remote working as a stretch assignment. Someone is deployed in their role into a new environment, but has the same or similar roles, responsibilities, and objectives. Explore what communication, equipment, tools, and support people need to succeed at their job in this new environment. Delineate specific channels for specific purposes. Make sure people know how to contact everyone they would normally need to talk with during the day.

It’s also a good time to talk honestly about people’s preferred communication methods. Who is happy to just pick up the phone, and who takes a little more time to consider specific questions and lay them out in an email?

Ensure good performance management

Most people work more effectively when they have clear deliverables, guidelines and timeframes. This can be more challenging for managers when people are working remotely, but effective performance management will make all the difference. For many employees a five or 10-minute check in call at the beginning and/or end of the day will be very useful. Managers should make sure they are tracking these objectives and checking in on progress.

Keep information timely, consistent and honest

When there is important information or new policies that need to be communicated with all staff, make sure it is shared in a direct and timely way. Avoid trickling out information, or teasing employees with an expected announcement. For example, one very large company this week announced to all employees at 9am that they would be making ‘a major announcement at the end of the day’. Leaking incomplete information or making an announcement about a forthcoming announcement is not particularly helpful. Don’t do it. It causes unnecessary speculation, confusion and worry, particularly at such times of heightened anxiety and where people are away from the office.

Ensure everyone has equal access to information

People don’t like feeling ‘out of the loop’ and even when it is possible to work remotely, some people miss the conversation, the insight or just the chat that is part of an office environment. Make sure communication channels are set up so that people are still included and have access to the same information and communication networks. Make sure announcements are shared equally with people who are not in the office.

Reach out to people from other organisations

Many people in HR have a diverse network of connections from previous jobs, networking events, personal connections or social networking sites. It’s unusual for companies that are normally competing within the same sector to directly share best practices, but now is a good time to suspend or re-examine how we think about that competition. For example, some HR departments have been forming Slack channels or using other group discussion platforms to share experience, advice and best practice between companies. This is especially helpful for smaller businesses where one person or a small group of people are effectively their own ‘department’.

Although it’s a challenging time for people managers, every other company is facing the same challenges, barriers and stressors. It can be a relief to know we’re all in the same boat and everyone (for the moment) is trying to solve the same problems.

tips for managing your talent

Key Tips for managing your Talent in 2021 post COVID-19

As organisations and leadership teams make the transition from the “response “phase to the “recover “and “thrive “phases post pandemic in 2021, it is worth thinking ahead as to what the Talent Management Agenda should look like in response to the new challenges that will inevitably arise. Here is some food for thought, which may inform your strategic and tactical planning in 2021.

Managing the return of employees to the workplace:

  • Some employees will feel anxious about returning to the workplace, and you should give careful thought to the measures that will ensure employees feel safe and secure on their return. Welcoming with appropriate positive messaging will be key securing and ensuring their continuing engagement.
  • Recognise and acknowledge that it may take some time for some employees to reacclimatise.
  • Consider offering retraining if both sides feel it is important. From a Health and Safety perspective it may be both desirable and necessary.
  • Return-to-work conversations with individuals could pay dividends, and should cover a variety of issues that may be of concern including: Health and Safety, Mental Well Being, Job security and Job changes necessitated by COVID, not least of which will be the future of flexible working.
  • Consider sending employees a welcome Letter with a pack of ‘return to work’ Information in advance.

Responding to requests for continued working from home:

  • Some employees may make formal requests to work from home. It is incumbent on employers to consider these requests by weighing up all considerations before responding to them, and to ensure such requests are managed in accordance with all necessary legal provisions. Line management should give careful thought to ensuring that they act equitably and fairly, and that they are able to provide a cogent business reason/explanation in circumstances whereby requests are refused.
  • Recognising Employees who have been pivotal in helping the business respond to the COVID-19 crisis and will inevitably act as catalysts in managing the transition from the “respond” to “recover and thrive” phases:
    • Employers should seek to recognise, reward and if appropriate, offer development to high performing employees who have been critical in helping the business manage through the crisis.
  • Winning the hearts and minds of employees – the roadmap to recovery and the “thrive” phase:
    • Try to allay as far as possible, feelings of insecurity about the continuity of the business and individual jobs. Build trust in the management ability of the company to see out the crisis and have plans in place to respond to new market opportunities once COVID rules are relaxed.
  • And finally (though certainly not an afterthought!) ——— Effective management of those employees who by virtue of lockdown remained in the business rather than seeking employment elsewhere
    • It is inevitable that some employees may have decided to move on from your business but were unable to do so due to the lack of suitable opportunities during the COVID crisis. Therefore, employers should place more emphasis on retention measures for the most valued staff and robust Performance Management measures for those where performance and engagement is lacking.
inheriting a team and managing the ‘baggage’

A DNA Case Study 

This important but unloved team had a recent history of ‘poor management’ and it was clear that it lacked a clear sense of purpose, cohesion, and identity. An experienced senior manager was brought in from outside the business to deal with the ‘baggage’ and develop the function and the team’s effectiveness, particularly focusing on collaborative team working. The new manager decided that an initial ‘audit’ of skills, attitudes and motivations of the team were the essential building blocks of a long-term operational strategy.

As a first step, each individual was engaged in the process by through one to one discussions with a dna hr consultant.

This was positioned as a personal development opportunity as well as an honest and open attitude survey. These confidential discussions provided key information, themes, concerns and non – attributable background comments, all to be addressed as part of a facilitated strategy workshop.

The initial workshop outcomes included a better sense of team direction and strategic purpose, ‘greater understanding of each other’s perspectives, and a wider appreciation of their service value to the business. Objectives were set for on-going improvements to service delivery, the team’s internal branding and stakeholder communications.

The second workshop was preceded by individual and team personality profiling. The outputs from the profiling provided useful data to explore in depth the team dynamics as well as adding to the investment in personal development for each team member.

The third workshop was devised at a later date to explore the impact of a sudden change in business circumstances, and consequential concern for team morale.

Assessing the process

The Managers comments at the end of the process:

“We made some good strides forward to achieve greater resilience and presence in the business (but some backward as well). Nonetheless, I believe team working, collaboration and the general working atmosphere is now much improved which was the major benefit I wanted to achieve.”

In summary, the whole thing was a bit of a cultural exploration, but I believe we learned:

  • Preferred styles of working compared with critical reasoning ability is not always aligned.
  • Challenging your own assumptions is a difficult thing to become skilled at.
  • Working collaboratively is key – to be seen listening and hearing is “vital”.

contact dna hr

info@dnahr.uk