General Interest | Collins McNicholas

How do I cope with the gaps left by staff going sick at short notice in my small team?

How do I cope with the gaps left by staff going sick at short notice in my small team?Question: I manage a small team in an accountancy firm. As you can imagine, this is a busy time of the year for us, but it is the time when people end up going off sick, with flu and other illnesses. It can be devastating to a small team, especially when someone phones in sick in the morning. Can you give me advice on getting cover at short notice and on how to plan for this in the future? Answer: Absence can be disruptive at work, particularly when a team is already stretched. It is important to consider both the solutions and the underlying causes in the short, medium and long term, from a tactical and strategic perspective. Analyse the data While it comes naturally to you to analyse data in your day-to-day role, perhaps you have not done the same regarding this issue. Based on the attendance data for last year, it may be possible to identify days when absences are most likely. For example, is there an increased level of absence on certain days of the week, or following particularly busy periods? Having access to this information may allow you to take a more strategic approach to your contingency worker solutions. Improve reporting At a tactical level, it may be useful to review the process by which employees notify you of an absence. The sooner you are aware of an issue, the better equipped you are to deal with the gap. Requesting employees to contact HR or their manager prior to the commencement of the working day is unlikely to have a negative impact upon the ill employee but can provide you with additional time to source a temporary replacement or distribute the employee’s work schedule for that day. Cross-train your employees Cross-training your employees and ensuring that work can be easily redistributed among the team can provide short-term relief when deadlines are tight. While it is often necessary to have specialists in each area, colleagues should be able to provide brief updates, access relevant information, and prevent the breakdown of a task or project in the case of an absence. This allows employees an insight into the overall work of the team, as well as providing a more varied and interesting workload. Engage a contingency recruitment provider It may be necessary at times to outsource the provision of temporary contract workers when required at very short notice. Specialist organisations, including Collins McNicholas Recruitment and HR Services Group, can provide suitably screened candidates with appropriate skills and experience at short notice. Short-term work can be of interest to employees who are hoping to build their experience, are phasing their return to the workplace, or enjoy a high level of flexibility in their work. The recruitment solution provider will often provide payroll and contract management solutions, as well as access to a skilled workforce. Identify the underlying causes While you mention seasonal illness as a key cause of absence, it may be of interest to investigate the underlying causes more deeply. For example, conducting an engagement survey within your team or the organisation may reveal more complex reasons underlying the absences. Employees who are unengaged or actively disengaged are more likely to have a high level of absenteeism than those who report that they are committed to their organisation’s goals and values. Develop an employee wellness programme Providing a programme may improve their engagement levels, and their overall physical and emotional resilience. Many organisations are now providing a structured approach to mental and physical health. From your question, it appears that absence increases as work demands become higher and stress levels rise. Providing your team with coping skills such as mindfulness and meditation may help them to prevent stress-related illnesses. Eating well, taking regular breaks, and exercise are also essential to developing a good work-life balance and warding off sickness.           Caroline Ward HR Services Manager Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group This article was originally published in the business section of The Sunday Independent on Sunday, 19th of November 2017. To see the original article please click...

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Preparing Your Team to Cope While You Take Extended Paternity Leave

Question: I am a senior manager at an engineering firm heading a team of six. My wife is due to give birth to our first baby and I want to take time off when the baby comes. However, I’m worried about missing too much time at work and not being around to support my junior team members. How can I prepare them to work efficiently and confidently while I take extended paternity leave? Answer: Firstly, congratulations on the impending arrival of the new addition to your family – an exciting time for you. You do need to be able to have confidence that your team will continue to work effectively while you are away. Employees need guidance but also need to be empowered to make the decisions necessary to be productive, and carry out their duties, when their manager is not present. This is what you need to work on now. Managers will say they want to empower their employees, but few actually do. This can be the result of a lack of trust on behalf of the manager who may think that the employees will not perform equally as well when they are not there or fear that employees will become too independent. Some managers fear that if they let the power go, then they may not be required any longer. On the other hand, many employees are afraid to take on added responsibility and be held accountable for their decisions. Empowering employees requires a great deal of trust by a manager – they must be willing to hand over the decision-making process, and elements of a task or...

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Collins McNicholas Host Networking Event in Eindhoven

On the 7th of September 2017, Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group hosted a successful Irish networking event in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Over the past decade we have placed over 300 engineers in The Netherlands, so the purpose of the event was to bring the Irish community in Eindhoven and surrounding areas together to celebrate the success of all our placements in the region, to check their progress since moving out there and ultimately to encourage them to network with each other and strengthen the Irish community there. The event was held in the surreal setting of PSV Eindhoven’s Philips Stadium, where we had access to the dressing rooms, warm-up area and pitch-side. The dressing rooms presented an ideal atmosphere for everyone to get to know each other over some finger food and drinks on the house, and the feedback from those who attended was extremely positive. The evening began with introductions and complimentary snacks. The atmosphere was very casual and allowed us all to get to know each other, and the staff in the arena were exceptional. As the night moved on we raffled off two-tickets for the All-Ireland Football Final, which went down extremely well with our guests needless to say, before concluding with some words of thanks. It was refreshing to learn that all the people we have helped to place in The Netherlands have been treated brilliantly out there and settled in quickly. If you would be interested in a move to The Netherlands check out our webpage www.collinsmcnicholas.ie/netherlands or get in touch with us today.                ...

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How can I tell my sister her son is not a suitable candidate for a position in my office?

Question: Our engineering company is hiring and I am in charge of selecting interview candidates. My sister told me her son (my nephew) is applying and that he could do with the confidence boost, as he has been unemployed since finishing college two years ago. The problem is he doesn’t have any experience. How can I tell him he is not suitable without affecting his confidence? Also, what advice can I offer him? Answer: This is a very common dilemma faced by professionals, particularly in management or HR positions. It is important to consider the potential impact on your career, your reputation, your team – and your nephew. While he may receive an immediate confidence boost, gaining a role that is beyond his capability may have a more damaging effect on his esteem in the long term. Evaluate your nephew’s potential ‘fit’ for the role objectively: Encourage your nephew to apply for the role as any other candidate might. Explain that he will not receive any preferential treatment. This will allow you to consider his application objectively. Is he a potential junior option? Are there other roles that may be suitable in future? There may be aspects of your nephew’s ability that you have not witnessed as your relationship with him has been personal only. If you decide not to progress with his application, you can stand over your decision, content that you have given his application due consideration. From your nephew’s perspective, he has gained the experience of applying to a role, preparing his CV and cover letter and considering his ‘fit’ to the organisation. Provide feedback: The real...

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Dealing With The Difficult Task of Making a Close Friend Redundant

Question: Last year, a promotion came up at the IT firm where I work. A colleague and close friend pushed me to put myself forward. When I got the job she was the first to celebrate with me. Now, due to budget restraints, the company is downsizing and I have been tasked with letting a number of staff go. I was gutted to see my friend’s name on the list and have no idea how to break the news to her. Can you advise me on how I can approach this situation without losing her friendship? Answer: This is no doubt a very challenging time for you both personally and professionally. Supervising a friend can have its benefits if they are a loyal follower of yours and ensure that at no time they let the side down. But it can have its challenges when tough discussions must take place such as terminations. You have to consider how to have this uncomfortable discussion with the hope of minimal damage to the personal relationship. Planning the conversation and the following pointers will help you to approach it in a more professional light. Be prepared for an emotional response. How you handle this will determine the future status of your friendship. 1. Make the conversation brief: Be brief when having the ‘manager’ conversation and offer yourself for the ‘friend’ conversation after work. Keep the actual conversation brief and isolate your friendship until this is delivered – this is important for both your own state of mind and for the way your friend perceives the action. 2. Don’t procrastinate: Be direct about the...

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Helping a New Team Leader Rise to The Challenge After a Rocky Start

Question: I’m the senior manager in a MedTech firm. I promoted another staff member to team leader after he showed exceptional skill during a successful trial period. Eight weeks into his role, two team members have raised issues about his leadership qualities. I promoted him because of his high standard and think he will be a fantastic role model. I want to see him do well, and inspire confidence. How do I bring this up without causing tension between him and his team? Answer: Leading a team long term requires a specific set of skills. But many who are successful at a senior level struggle to make the transition from management of operations or projects to people management. Often training, mentoring and on-going support are required to assist them. 1 Why is this issue arising now? As the team leader has successfully completed a trial period, consider what is the difference between the environment now and during that period. Is the workload heavier? Are there stresses now that did not exist before? While other team members are citing issues with their direct-line management, perhaps there are other issues. Gather information on the performance of the team, attendance records and project requisitions. Garner informal feedback from other team leaders or managers. An overall barometer of the composition and performance of the team will allow you to ascertain if the issue is with the direct line management of the team or with the more strategic issues of the allocation of workload, stress management or more complex dynamics within the team itself. 2 Initiate a coaching-based conversation Organise a confidential space to...

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