Scrooge’s Guide to Presents

In case you missed my December email newsletter, here’s a catch up for you!

The start of a new year is the time when some businesses think about how best to reward their staff for their hard work over the last 12 months. Instead of a one-off ‘thank you’, what about putting a more ongoing, sustainable rewards scheme in place?

Here’s the story of how one Dickensian employer got it right!

Ebenezer Scrooge loved Christmas! He really enjoyed giving his staff time off, to spend with their families over Christmas. He encouraged them to go Christmas shopping and to send cards to all their friends.

Mr Scrooge even loved giving presents to his staff. But he often struggled to find the best gift for each person. So one year, had a great idea. Instead of buying each member of his team a gift at Christmas, Mr Scrooge decided to set up a reward system for all his staff, which would run all through the year, rewarding them on an ongoing basis for their hard work.

Here’s what Ebenezer Scrooge did to create the best Christmas present that lasts for 12 months:

  1. He put a structure in place – just a simple one to begin with
  2. He took the time to identify the things that were really important to his staff – including non-financial benefits – and incorporated them into his strategy
  3. He invested in making his company an interesting and fulfilling place to work. This helped him to attract great people and helped keep overall pay costs down
  4. He created a scheme that was simple to understand, so that his line managers didn’t struggle to explain it. They were key to making his reward structure a success
  5. He didn’t assume that it was just about pay. According to research that Mr Scrooge read, some executives would consider a pay cut of up to 35% in order to get their ideal job.
  6. Then he reviewed the scheme and the effect it had on his staff throughout the year, to make sure he was still getting it right
  7. And finally he enjoyed spreading Christmas cheer amongst his staff all year long and they loved working for him!


Think about how you can engage your staff beyond Christmas by setting up a reward scheme this year.

Don?t Make a Pantomime Out of HR

Here’s a little festive tale of HR for you, called the Cinderella School of HR.

Cinderella doesn’t like having to work long hours in the run up to Christmas, and drop everything every time her step mother wants something. She prefers being able to work flexible hours, as she knows what she needs to get done. Helping her identify ways of improving her work/life balance makes her much more engaged with her work.

The Ugly Sisters spend a lot of time telling poor Cinders what to do. They find fault with everything that she does and yet they never lift a finger to help. Why do they pick on their step-sister in this way? Because they’ve both realised that they’re not reaching the objectives that were set at their last appraisals – they’re both underperforming! Making Cinderella look bad means that their mother won’t notice how useless they are. Perhaps they need the Fairy Godmother to carry out their next appraisals and see what needs to be done?

Prince Charming used to be far from charming. He was always doing his own thing, despite having been told what to do on numerous occasions. He turned up late for princely duties; he didn’t send his reports back to the office promptly, so Buttons couldn’t get the invoices out on time. The Fairy Godmother was called in to see if young Charming could be sacked. Instead she suggested a capability meeting, where she explained the concerns and set some goals for Charming to achieve in time for another meeting in two weeks. The King called back just a week later to say that Charming had suddenly become utterly charming and was in fact now the best Prince that the King had ever known. All that from one meeting!

So if Cinderella doesn’t seem pleased to be at work, ask her what you can do to improve her work/life balance.

If you’ve got Ugly Sisters not meeting their targets, or Princes not being charming, instead of trying to get rid of them, talk to them about how you can improve their performance and wave your magic wand! You could be surprised by the results. Oh yes you could!

What can you do to make sure you don’t make a pantomime out of HR in your business?

How to Boost Profitability in Your Business

Here are 10 ideas to help you improve the profitability of your business through your people.

  1. Build a stimulating and vibrant working environment. A diverse workplace is a profitable workplace. Embrace the many different skills, backgrounds, experiences and attitudes of your staff and direct these to best effect
  2. Focus on training and personal improvement. Make sure every member of you team is given the opportunity to reach their full potential by offering them the training and development they need, in technical and soft skills.
  3. Reward and recognise. By recognising and incentivising staff that reach targets or produce a consistently high quality of work, you will encourage them to strive even harder.
  4. Handle difficult situations quickly. Do not let disciplinary or incapability issues turn into problems. Deal with them in a responsive and positive way to reduce the chances of them happening again.
  5. Have a good recruitment and induction process. Make sure that you always recruit the best person for the job and that they perform to the level you require from day one.
  6. Keep up to date with legislation. This is a key aspect in treating your employees fairly and also a way to constantly building best practice into your people management procedures.
  7. Communicate, communicate, communicate.   Keep your staff informed about how the business is doing. What can they do to help? How does their job fit into the bigger picture of the organisation? This will ensure your employees feel valued, engaged and focussed on the success of the company.
  8. Carry out succession planning. Don’t just rely on the skills and experience of long-standing members of staff but put time and effort into training and mentoring programmes that develop the skills and abilities of younger members of the team. This way you ensure success for the long term and continuity of service for your customers.
  9. Look closely at team dynamics. What teams are working well and how can this be replicated across the business? Look for gaps in team dynamics and skills sets that can affect morale development and work to actively improve them.
  10. Be a good boss. Your behaviour sets the tone for how you expect others to behave. Invest time in working on your own management style and take a top-down approach to improving performance rather than relying on the skills of those around you.

We’ll talk more about how to be a great boss in this blog in a couple of week’s time.

In the meantime, what do you do to improve profitability of your business through your people? Leave a comment here to share your tips.

HR Policies Procedure

With unemployment rates depressingly high, a double-dip recession looming and competition in every area in industry more fierce than ever, now is the time to fine tune your HR policies and procedures.  Working in a preventative rather than reactive way will enable you to recruit and retain the best talent, increase productivity and protect your company brand.

Your business needs operate like a well-oiled machine.  Each working part should be fit for purpose and maintained for optimum performance, rather than simply fixing individual problems when they occur.  This way it will be less likely to breakdown.  This is the essence of Preventative HR!

Do you have a thorough recruitment process in place?  To be working in a preventative way you must have comprehensive job descriptions and clear views about what skills new employees must have and what you need them to do.  Likewise, when people join your business you need to ensure you induct them properly.  Even skilled and highly experienced employees need to understand the unique ways in which you conduct business in order to prevent mistakes.

Performance management plays a key role in Preventative HR.  Include a probation period in every contract of employment to set the foundation of your relationship and a benchmark for future performance.  Set on-going objectives for each employee and get into the habit of giving feedback regularly both informally as part of your appraisal process, this will give you the chance to give praise for work well done and identify instances of poor performance before they become major issues.

Communication, communication, communication.  Keep your staff informed about how the business is doing, what can they do to help and how their job fits into the bigger picture this will ensure they feel valued, engaged and focussed on the success of the company.  Similarly listen to their needs and aspirations and encourage training and development opportunities that help employees reach their full potential.  In return turn they will perform better and make a bigger contribution to the overall success of the business.

Finally, be a good boss!  When your employees leave they will tell everyone what a great company you were to work for. There is no better advertising than that!