November 28

Santa or Scrooge…..a fine line to ensure the office party is a success…….!!

The work’s Christmas party is a great opportunity to celebrate a year of success and gather colleagues together in a more relaxed environment.

To ensure everyone has a great time a huge amount of organisation needs to go on behind the scenes, before you even think about venues! Even fairly small teams can consist of a wide variety of cultures and religions and so, for starters, you need to make sure you take an inclusive view – and then there are all kinds of extra considerations to make.

Here are our top ten tips for hosting a Christmas party that will enable you to brilliantly tread the line between Santa and Scrooge:

1. Make sure that everyone feels included, especially if they don’t share the religious values associated with Christmas – this means checking that the day of the week you choose isn’t sacred for other religions that could mean certain staff members can’t join in.

2. Declare a ‘no pressure’ policy, so nobody feels obliged to attend if they don’t feel comfortable, but don’t forget to invite those on family related leave.

3. Make sure catering covers vegetarians, vegans, those that abstain from alcohol and any special dietary needs – and that everything’s clearly labelled.

4. Relax the rules – while it’s an extension of the workplace in some regards, you still want people to have fun – but remind them that normal rules of behaviour apply.

5. Provide written guidance on personal conduct. Remind staff about your discrimination policies – any inappropriate behaviour will be dealt with in the same way as if it occurred during normal working circumstances.

6. Don’t lay on a free bar – it makes any rules under points four and five more difficult to uphold. However, it is Christmas, so you want to get into the spirit a little – offer to buy the first round of drinks or provide a bottle of wine for each table.

7. Try to assign a designated non-drinker from management to keep a subtle eye on staff without spoiling any legitimate fun.

8. Remind staff not to drink and drive and consider organising a mini bus to pick up and take people home. Have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available too!

9. If you employ under 18 year olds you need to consider the venue if you hold it off work premises to ensure that they allow under 18s on the premises.

10. If the party falls on a work night, clearly state your expectations for attendance in the morning – even if that means letting everyone come in an hour later or providing a free breakfast!

Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a sparkling new year!

November 8

Four top tips for recruiting great staff….

Recruiting the best people for your business goes hand in hand with running a successful business. There are other factors in play, but recruitment is one of the most important and also one you can control the most.

Here are four tips for successful hiring:

1. Recruit people who are motivated and driven to succeed

Motivation and a drive to succeed are often far better indicators of long-term potential success in a position than academic results and previous experience.

Good academic results are an indicator that a person is driven, but they only prove they possess the drive to achieve good academic results (for which the motivations might be parental approval or peer competition).

A common assumption is that experience is the most important factor to take into account when it comes to recruitment. Obviously, to recruit within a technical area, a minimum level of technical knowledge and skills is required by a candidate, but an alternative approach is to hire a less experienced person with a larger amount of drive and hunger for success, than a more experienced person.

2. Look for people who are willing to experiment, fail and learn from their mistakes

Regarding failure as a learning opportunity rather than an embarrassment is critical to rapid development and the likelihood of someone using their initiative.

NASA asks people in interviews to discuss in detail a time that they made a serious mistake and what they learned from it. People willing to experiment will be happy to do this, people unwilling to do so generally try to excuse the failure by blaming external factors (or won’t have a failure story at all). You can’t learn from your mistakes if you don’t accept you are making them.

3. Don’t rely on interviews: introduce practical tests and competency-based hiring

Interviews are a very poor way of choosing people and companies tend to hire confident people in preference to capable ones. There is also a tendency for the hiring manager to recruit people similar to themselves.

Assessment should, therefore, be made more practical. This is easier for some jobs than others, but the very least you should be doing is a competency-based interview: very specific questions designed to work out if the candidate has the actual skills (and motivations) you need. Make sure you ask for specific examples where they demonstrated that they had the skills you want and applied them in a real-life example.

4. It’s a two-way process

Think carefully about the candidate experience – what is it like applying to you? Is it a simple and transparent process, do they get good feedback? Make sure you put as much effort into selling your company as a place to work as you do to giving people hurdles to get over and create the interest first of all.

Finally, be prepared to move fast for the right people. The best people will have many options; make sure you have your offer to them first. You will not look desperate if you have followed a rigorous selection procedure.