If you think you're just faking it until you make it, you're definitely not alone. Many of us think we're 'not good enough' or 'don't belong'.
If you feel inadequate, that you don’t belong or like you’re about to be ‘found out’ at work, you may be suffering from a widespread psychological phenomenon. These feeling are typical of ‘Impostor Syndrome’.
You’re in good company: Imposter Syndrome is ubiquitous - with Oscar winners, top athletes and bestselling authors all confessing to experiencing it. There’s a perception that Imposter Syndrome affects more women than men, but it’s not a gendered phenomenon: perhaps women are just more comfortable talking about it? Or perhaps they're just better a verbalising it.
In the workplace HR professionals need to be aware of this phenomenon as it can prevent the most talented, experienced or knowledgeable employees from applying for a promotion, contributing to a discussion or even asking for a pay rise. It can also hinder creativity or risk taking, if you doubt yourself, you are not likely to believe that someone else will welcome your ideas or suggestions.
I really like the term ‘discretionary effort’, to me it differentiates employees that are not just engaged in their business but those that are engaged and really invested in the success of their team, department and company. They show their level of engagement by consistently helping their colleagues, sharing, supporting, coaching, mentoring – all done without needing to be asked.
When someone starts working with a company - they are engaged. They want the job (they've normally gone through a long process to get the job); they want to work in that company and look forward to meeting and engaging with their new colleagues. Fast forward a few years (less than that in many cases) and that sparkle of engagement has diminished despite the new suggestion scheme or the free lunch on a Friday. So, what’s happened? What has changed? These are key questions for any business that values employee engagement.
In our experience one of the factors that seems to keep popping up is the internal customer experience. If your experience with colleagues is poor – poor communications, not sharing information appropriately, Chinese whispers etc. or if your experience of your managers and the company is poor - lack lustre induction process, no feedback system in place, favouritism etc. our research indicates that this is a key factor in undermining employee engagement. Time and time again we have been told how a lack of communication between departments, teams, managers and individuals is detrimental to the sense of an individual’s sense of fulfilment, success and achievement.
Too many times we’ve been asked to work with businesses to help them improve staff retention, employee engagement and/or the people culture of the organisation. The back story is always similar – "we used to have a great culture, people loved working here, we’ve done everything we can to make this a great place to work, increased salaries, been flexible with time off, given extra holidays, training etc but people just want more and more - they're so ungrateful, they don't realise how great they've got it here. Our latest employee survey rates us 2 out of 5 for ‘being a great place to work’. Last year we scored a 3 and thought that was bad enough. What should we do now?! We need help!"
Each time we come across this problem our answer is the same. Employment Engagement is not a destination, it’s a journey. If you see this as a ‘project’ something that can be fixed by introducing some new ideas or, as we saw in one company, who introduced a ‘Directors’ Lunch’ once a month and thought that would improve the ‘us and them’ culture, then you may as well throw your money away now.
Engagement starts with communication, authentic two-way communication. Discussion, opinions shared, risks considered and, eventually agreed and shared outcomes. Involving, respecting and trusting others is one of the cornerstones to effective engagement and in a world where hybrid working is becoming the norm with 50% of people attending the workplace/office whilst the other 50% work from home or their car then it has never been more important to really look at the channels of communication you and your colleagues use.
DEFINITION OF A MANAGER: “a person responsible for controlling or administering an organisation or group of staff".
The COVID pandemic has affected us all but in the workplace for managers, supervisors, team leaders the changes have been fundamental.
Instead of focusing on outputs, quality, service delivery etc - the hard stuff - their roles have been extended to include a significant portion of time spent coaching and mentoring. With many organisations having staff working from home - a trend likely to continue as the UK Government are about to launch a white paper to discuss extending flexible working and working from home - the art of coaching will become a key skill for managers.
We’ve certainly seen lots of evidence over the last 18 months of managers that have struggled to motivate their staff, keep the same levels of productivity and teamworking. When they’ve contacted us, they are normally at their wits end, and losing confidence rapidly, dreading the weekly meetings or talking to the person who is not meeting targets. They are typically stressed and taking one of two stances – 'it’s my fault I can’t connect with this person' or 'it’s all their fault'. Rarely has the middle ground been an option. So, how do we move forward? Is it now time to re-assess what skills our managers and supervisors need to be successful?
In February, the BBC ran a business article about Octopus Energy's Founder and CEO Greg Jackson, with the inflammatory title "My billion pound company has no HR department". As you can imagine, as an HR Consultant, this is a rattling title to have thrown out into the wider business market.
The article goes on to say that with "more than 1,200 employees, [Mr Jackson] has no interest in traditional things like human resources (HR) and information technology (IT) departments". I enjoy the use of the word 'traditional' instead of the blatant meaning: 'old fashioned' and I have to say it makes me laugh. I sometimes wonder what people think HR people do? I'm certain that the general consensus still is that HR provides glorified filing.
Clearly, if we take this prime example, the industry is often thought of as 'old fashioned' and I can't tell you how many times, when I've told someone what I do, their energy flatlines and you can see the infamous eye-roll. Why has HR received this damning reaction?
How much PRIDE do your colleagues have in the business you work for?
Now I know this may sound like a simple question but when it comes to finding out how motivated or engaged people are in their work and the business generally, it certainly packs a punch.
If you ask your staff that question via a feedback session or a simple questionnaire, bear in mind one word of caution: if you do decide to ask everyone you work with how much pride they have in the business, be prepared for answers that range from the good, to the bad and the downright ugly. It is one of those questions that tends to illicit the truth and sadly, sometimes the truth is not pretty.
On the positive side it is the perfect question to ask if you want to understand just how engaged your colleagues are and if, per chance, the results are not what you expected, say the measurable ‘pride factor’ ranges from 0-50%, then you must be prepared to take action. Dig deeper and found out the five ‘whys’.
As the UK roles out the COVID vaccine, primarily the Oxford-developed vaccine AstraZeneca, there are already rumblings about individuals refusing to take it.
Public Health authorities have advised pregnant women or those who are planning to become pregnant within three months of the first dose should not take the vaccine. There are also warnings for those with certain allergies to avoid taking the vaccine. But what of the infamous anti-vaxxers or those conspiracy theorists who believe taking the vaccine is a Government ploy to insert tracking devices into our systems?
In the case of an employee refusing to have the vaccine (out-with the medically approved refusals), can the employer do anything about it?
ACAS have taken the view that, no, employers are not able to require their employees to take the vaccine and should listen to employee concerns to understand where their refusal is founded. However, if the reasons for refusing the vaccine are unreasonable then employers can take disciplinary action - that seems a fine line to tread, so what could be considered 'unreasonable'?
According to Deimantas Kubilius v Kent Foods Ltd, yes.
An Employment Tribunal decided that the decision by Kent Foods Ltd to dismiss Mr Kubilius after he refused to wear his face mask during the first lockdown was fair.
The background of the case was, Mr Kubilius, a lorry driver for Kent Foods Ltd primarily transported goods to and from the Basildon depot and Tate & Lyle's Refinery. During the first lockdown T&L put a temporary Health & Safety measure in place, requiring all employers, contractors and visitors to wear a face mask when on-site to reduce the risk of Coronavirus infection.
After visiting T&L in May 2020, Kent Foods Ltd was notified that Mr Kubilius had been banned from the site after repeatedly refusing to put a face mask on when asked, stating that "he was in his cab and didn't have to". Mr Kubilius argued that wearing a face mask was not legally enforceable even in the workplace, and that he had done nothing wrong...
The 19th February 2021 will long have reverence in Employment Law in the UK and abroad. It will be known as the day the UK Supreme Court made the decision to dismiss Uber's final appeal (Uber BV and others v Aslam and others  UKSC 5) in a landmark judgment.
The case against Uber, in regard to employment rights, has been in the courts since 2016. In which Uber claimed that the individuals who worked for them were third-party self-employed contractors and therefore didn't qualify for a number of employment rights under the Employment Rights Act 1996, the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and the Working Time Regulations 1998.
In Scotland, and the UK, there are long-standing tests in law to determine whether an individual is an employee or a contractor. Let's have a look at them here:
Whether we like it or not, most Employers will have to restructure their workforce as the UK returns to work.
This could mean anything from heavily recruiting (as we've seen across a number of sectors) to making a number of redundancies. Every decision being made is to ensure that businesses can remain open and trading, and recover as quickly as possible from any damage suffered this year.
Businesses need to work through their recovery plan, taking a longer term strategic view. Unfortunately this is one of the toughest discussions and decisions any business has to take, as it isn't about their people, it's about their livelihood. One cannot exist without the other, and it's finding the balance to allow for a effective recovery.