Friday, 13 July 2012

Employment Tribunal fees- update

The Ministry of Justice has reported on the outcome of a consultation on the introduction of employment tribunal fees. The stance that's been adopted states that the aim of bringing in fees is to please the taxpayer by cutting the costs of the current tribunal system to the taxpayer.

Fees may be implemented as soon as summer next year.

Here's a summary.

'Level 1' claims ('simple' claims including the likes of unlawful deductions from wages) will atract a £160.00 issue of claim fee and a hearing fee of £230.00

'Level 2' claims (less straightforward claims) will attract a £250.00 issue of claim fee and a hearing fee of £950.00

An Employment Appeal Tribunal will cost the claimant £400.00 to log, and a
£1,200.00 fee for the hearing itself.

The release sets out various other charges such as a fee of £600.00 for judicial mediation.
It is obvious (and the report does acknowledge) that these fees do not cover the costs of running our tribunal system. It also gives an undertaking that the fees will be regularly reviewed, and changes made swiftly should problems present themselves.

Whether the decision to levy fees will prove to cut the number of claims filed annually (whether vexatious or not) remains to be seen, but we must be cautious that an inability to pay does not prevent the less-fortunate claimants from pursuing claims against unscrupulous employers too.

Creating a vision

This week we've sketched out draft one of our vision for where we want to be in a year's time. It's a work in progress of course and we will share it when we feel we're done. 

We've used some simple, straightforward guidelines set out by the US deli dynamo Ari Weinzweig that we found via the Inc website. Ari will also share his personal vision for where he wants to be in 2020 with you if you just email him and ask nicely. (He's a lovely chap, too.)

Make time to read Ari's article then have a go yourself and let us know how you get on.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Really useful philosophy

I get business books recommended to me all the time, from tomes that promise to reduce my working week to just four hours (why would I want to do that? I love my work and I'd be terminally bored) to those that pledge to help me make money while I sleep (intriguing, but I am rather fond of the sense of having worked for what I have.) I want to talk about just one approach that resonated with me years ago, and still holds true.

Back when I was still a thirtysomething, I worked on a temp contract with the Royal Bank of Scotland. It was a six-month maternity cover contract to support a department with employment relations admin, and see that the right stuff got to the right people. I underwent a two week training and induction programme (yes, two weeks for a temp job! Anyone would think they wanted things done properly!) The training manager, a redoubtable and highly personable lady named Liz, introduced me to one of the very best business systems I'd ever encountered. It's still one I touch upon time and again, and it's based on the most beautifully clear, clean and simple principles from the most unexpected source: The Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. 

The guys there do a dirty job, handling cold, stinking, wet fish day in, day out. They do long hours and they work hard.

They are also are legendary for their showmanship and commitment to great service- so much so that they attract crowds of suited and booted office workers early morning and every lunchtime who hope to tap into the energy and vibrancy of this unique workplace, and the people who make it buzz.

The guys realised many years ago that what they had was worth sharing, and so they created the Fish Philosophy, based on the aforementioned simple principles. I still refer to them as my touchstones of how to give great service, inspire loyalty and be remembered. (You can buy a shedload of materials to help you implement this thinking, but all you really need is the below and the ability to read and understand them.)

From the Fish Philosophy website, here are the fab four:

Be There is being emotionally present for people. It’s a powerful message of respect that improves communication and strengthens relationships.

Play taps into your natural way of being creative, enthusiastic and having fun. Play is the spirit that drives the curious mind, as in “Let’s play with that idea!” It’s a mindset you can bring to everything you do.

Make Their Day is finding simple ways to serve or delight people in a meaningful, memorable way. It’s about contributing to someone else’s life, not because you want something out of it, but because that’s the person you want to be.

Choose Your Attitude means taking responsibility for how you respond to what life throws at you. Once you are aware that your choice impacts everyone around you, you can ask yourself, “Is my attitude helping my team or my customers? Is it helping me to be the person I want to be?”

Through The FISH! Philosophy, we build stronger relationships with the team members we work with, the customers we serve, the students we teach and the people we love.

I thought I'd reflect a little on how well I'm doing in living in alignment with these principles.

A small but carefully-nurtured client base means I can deliver on the first. I don't check my phone or emails when I am on time booked out to see a client. I don't blog when I am focussed on a task for a client. I don't tweet. I am there, with them, and that's where I want to be.

Playing can mean anything from getting creative with very few resources to meeting interesting companies. It can mean tweeting, or spinning off on themes that can really add value to a relationship and get people smiling. I do a lot of that. I love to play. Who wouldn't, given half a chance? Mark Twain said that 'Work and play are two words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions', and that's one dude who knew a lot.

Altruism is all too rare. Very few people can honestly go into a situation without pondering 'what's in it for me?' I'll tell you- a sense of having made something that little bit better, and having been a good and decent soul. I don't mean to sound pious, but surely contributing where we can for the good of others feeds our need to achieve? I swear, being able to sit down in the evening and say "I made their day" makes you feel damned good about life. Try it.

I believe in the sixty second effect. If you walk into a room in an ill temper, within sixty seconds you'll have put everyone there on the path to a foul mood, too. Taking a moment outside the door to compose your thoughts helps you choose your attitude. Remind yourself that nobody in that room cares about the traffic you've sat in, your bad hair day or the little gift the cat left in your slippers: it's not their problem. You being a poor version of the real you is. Respect them and don't inflict it on them.

So I think I do ok. I know could do better. But that's what keeps me motivated and determined to stick to the plan. I will always work to ensure that Treacletiger uses these principles in how we behave with clients, colleagues, connections, friends and everyone we meet. 

Try working with just one of the principles and see what happens. Let me know how you get on.

The Olympics- A Matter of Trust

Just dropping by to reblog this piece by Jane Sparrow from the excellent HRZone website as not all of you can log in there and it deserves a wide audience.

Whether you agree with London Mayor Boris Johnson's comments about 'skiving' home-workers or not, his outspoken views last week have once again raised the bigger issue of trust. 

As we move closer to the Olympics, I believe we will see more evidence of companies that do -  and companies that don't -  trust their staff.  

The Olympics is a unique opportunity to celebrate. Many organisations are sharing the excitment of the Games and doing wonderful things such as putting up wide-screen TVs into canteens and meeting rooms to allow staff the opportunity to watch the action.  

Other companies are seeing the Olympics as an opportunity to discover new ways of working and connecting with each other.

Equally, however, there are also stories emerging about employers placing restrictions on social media and internet use during the Games. Sites like do not help to dispel the cynicism about a mistrusted workforce looking to take advantage.  

Of course, each company has to decide its own agenda around the Olympics to best suit its culture and organisation. It's about finding the balance that enables staff to celebrate and enjoy the games if they wish to, whilst still ensuring business continues 'as normal'.  

How companies choose to act sends a clear message about the behaviours it really values and it is not just current employees that are shaped and influenced by these actions. Generation Y - the Millennials -  our younger and technology-savvy future workforce, will be making their own mind up about their choice of employer. 

Surveys show that this generation of employees are looking for more than a paypacket from their employer.

They want flexible working that enables them to build their lives around their work. They also want a workplace that is fun and enjoyable to be part of, in exchange for their loyalty and dedication. They take social responsibility seriously and expect transparency from their employer.    

Business needs exceptional people in order to thrive and grow. For many organisations, how it entrusts its workforce with the time, flexibility and and opportunity to celebrate the Olympics will send an important message not just to its employees, but to the next generation of talent.

Jane Sparrow is managing director of behavioural change consultancy, Northern Flight.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Breaking bad habits

This may prove a little controversial, but it's cluttering up the Tiger mind palace* and so needs to be thrown out there.

I've recently helped to recruit and induct two new employees to a business that does things rather informally and in a fairly relaxed way; the office staff work hard. They do great work. They just don't take breaks, preferring to eat at their desks and drink tea throughout the day. It works for them. They've established a way of doing things and they're happy. Mostly.

What I'm not so sure about is how I broach the topic of this being Not Really A Good Thing. I feel that this is a bad habit that needs to be very visibly and clearly broken for the new guys. I don't like it: I feel a lack of getting out in the air or a break from a screen is terribly bad for a soul. I believe that it exacerates stress and that it can lead to health problems. 

And yet, and yet... I do it too. I work in this office for at least half my working week. I'm one of the worst culprits. So now do you see why I am struggling with how to raise it?

It's led me to think about whether a lack of practicing what we promote means we are hypocrites. Are we doing the worst thing in asking that others behave in a way that we ourselves have chosen not to adopt? Would they be entirely justified in telling us where to take our recommendations?

Or is it that we have made our own choices, but want others to know that it's ok for them to make a different one?

I guess it's all in how it's communicated; recognising that you may do things one way, but giving them the option to do it a different/better way is a great opportunity to invite new thinking and change. 

But lor, being so close to the fire on this one has been tricky.

I found myself ticking one of the new guys off earlier and sounding like a parent 'tut-tutting' at a wayward kid when I asked if he planned on taking a break from the screen and he replied non-committally 'Yes... maybe... soon...'I walked away, irritated that despite my good intentions, I had come across like a disapproving schoolmarm.

Does anyone have any thoughts, ideas or tips on how to tackle this?

*Thank you, Benedict Cumberbatch.