"Presenteeism" - what is it and why is it back?

I first came across “presenteeism” in the late 90’s early 00’s. I was working in the new and emerging area of digital music and content which was going through rapid changes and many booms and busts. Job security was low, tech was moving fast and if you missed a day because you were sick you might have missed the next big thing fueling the rise of FOMO (fear of missing out)!

And so “presenteeism” became a thing. As the direct opposite of absenteeism, employees would come into work when, in reality, they were too sick to be there. Not only does this slow the recovery process and contribute to additional stress, but spreads viruses to the rest of the office. It showed up again around 2008 during the banking crisis and it looks like it’s back.

In the attached article by the BBC, a recent survey shows the “presenteeism” is on the rise again. We can’t get away from the fact that the lack of certainty around Brexit has contributed to job losses and had an affect on the growth of the country. But could this also be contributing to a workforce to scared to take a day off?


We just can't ignore the "B" word anymore!

It’s been very challenging recently with so many questions around the “B” word....yes, Brexit! In the past few weeks it’s been more “what if?” and “do you know what will happen....?” around employment and changes away from European law.

But now we are dealing with the direct impact of this political chaos and uncertainty. Irrespective of how you feel about it, the current situation has affected the economy with less spending and low commitment to projects until after Brexit.....whenever that is!

Which has led to the difficult decision of companies needing to downsize.

We have found some creative solutions to try and protect jobs long term but clients are sadly moving towards redundancies.

And there seems no simple answer or clarity to the situation with more and more businesses being affected. The diagram pictured from the BBC is one of the best I’ve seen so far to explain what can happen next which could help people to try and make some sort of plan….

Straight white male wins discrimination case.......yes really!

It’s not often that a successful discrimination tribunal makes national headlines but this one has for all the right or wrong reasons, depending on how you look at it, as the claimant is a straight white male.

The article explains that due to a poor use of positive discrimination in the recruitment process the straight white male wasn’t offered a job with the Cheshire Police Force, despite passing all the tests, due to a biased selection process.

And he was absolutely right to go to tribunal. Legally he was unfairly discriminated against and, as the first case of it’s kind, this is a landmark ruling. But should we stop to think about how many successful discrimination cases made by someone with a protected characteristic don’t make it to the national news. Or worse, why don’t we read about the many times those with a protected characteristics are discriminated against in the same way but don’t have the means or confidence to challenge it.

Which ever way you look at it, this case has highlighted the difficulties when adopting a positive discrimination policy to attract diversity. It also has the potential to open the debate of how organisations look at the way they attract candidates as whole.


Roses are red...Violets are blue...Well this is awkward....As I work with you!

It’s hard to miss that it is Valentines Day and although receiving gifts and cards from loved ones is lovely, it can be very challenging when there is unwanted attention from a colleague or consultant at work.

Sexual harassment has rightly been brought firmly to our attention in the media through high profile cases but it can also be the unwanted subtle comments and gestures that need to be addressed.

Many actions are dismissed as “office banter” and “just jokes” which in many cases are used as a defence in grievance complaints but these can have a huge impact making someone feel very uncomfortable in the workplace.

So what can be done? Businesses could use Valentines Day as a team bonding or reward by providing cakes or chocolates for the office as a whole rather than individuals bringing gifts. However, education as a whole is incredibly important. Having open conversations in the office about what is appropriate can really set the tone not just for Valentines Day. It may also be necessary to have a formal harassment in the workplace policy or section in your handbook or Ts&Cs. By creating an open environment to discuss these issues, those that receive unwanted attention will feel confident to speak up.

Dealing with any complaints quickly is essential and should prevent any further unwanted attention, however professional advice should be sort if you are unsure of how to proceed.

It's a snow day - but will you get paid?

Much to the disappointment of many children down here in Brighton, we only had sprinkle of snow.

However areas of the UK have seen school closures and travel disruption forcing people to stay away from work. So what rights do you have to be paid for these days - this article from the BBC explains things in a simple way. Essentially you should always see what your contract says and stay in contact with your employer.....


Google gets fined under GDPR!

As much as GDPR gave us an inbox headache, confusion for small businesses and having to agree to cookies on every website, it is starting to look as though it is having a positive impact when individual data is being incorrectly used.

Google have now been issued with a hefty fine for breach of GDPR. The big companies will always be more obvious when they incorrectly use data for marketing, but it could only be a matter of time before smaller businesses are investigated.


When clients say great things........

It really has been a fantastic year for Jessica Freeman HR and, whilst catching up with a few clients, I’ve had some brilliant new testimonials including this one from Elena Collins, Managing Director of MyCharleston;

'Jessica has been a joy to work with this past year. She has helped us with a variety of pieces of work and has done so with great professionalism. Even if you just need a bit of advice, she is always happy to chat things through with you'

MyCharleston is a rapidly expanding dance company providing courses in various locations across the South, bespoke performances and extra special tea dances......a great company to be working with and so lovely to get such great feedback.

2019 is going to bring some new exciting ventures and I hope to continue to support clients new and old in the new year.

Penalties, Waistcoats and Harry Kane Hugs.....we all have the World Cup bug!

It has united a nation and created a feeling of euphoria across the country.  It’s even got this rugby girl enthusiastic about a different shaped ball. Love it or hate it, there is no denying that football is on everyone’s mind this week.

Articles, like the one previously shared, really only hypothesize about England actually being successful and so preparations or an event policy at work hardly ever become a reality.

But win or lose, the nation will come to a halt on Wednesday night, and potentially again on Sunday, leaving us all to potentially deal with two mornings after!

If you’ve not done so already I would highly recommend you have a think about whether you can effectively deal with the inevitable sick days or are you going to come up with a strategy beforehand.  Losing a couple hours of productivity could prevent full work days being lost. It could also boost morale and work output of your staff.

Maybe you could open up two hours later, or have a company footie debrief breakfast before getting on with work?  You could try and offer incentives to make people think twice about calling in……..but whatever you do it needs to be fair.  There are many studies that show that employees believe being valued and treated fairly is more important than financial reward so be mindful that there may be those who won't be watching so any incentives should be offered to all.

And let’s hope it’s coming home………..

World Cup "Fever" is a genuine illness - honest!!!

The London Olympic Games in 2012 changed employers perception of large sporting events from an irritation and loss of productivity to an opportunity to reward employees.  But how do you deal with large events like the World Cup, that fall into working hours, in a fair way. How can you prevent that well known medical condition of World Cup "Fever" and what about those who just aren't that bothered!

This article can provide some help.......https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/world-cup-2018-six-goals-for-employers/

It's only half term, but already trying to juggle the summer holidays!

It's the eternal struggle of working parents.....holiday childcare!  It's only half term but you're already thinking about the summer holidays!

Whether you work for a company with precious holiday days or have taken the leap to work for yourself but can't balance the work demands and children at home, childcare in school holidays is always so difficult.

This article has some good tips but also talks about the ending of enrollment into childcare vouchers schemes in October 2018........



This special offer has now ended but if you're still concerned about GDPR we can provide an affordable session to get you up to speed ******Special Offer******


If the thought of GDPR is worse than watching paint dry then this is for you!

I will come to you for up to 2 hours and go through everything you and your business need to do to get set before May 25th (you really don't want to be the test case business they fine!).

For just £45......

We'll look at how to keep the data on the clients you already have and what to do when new ones come along.

And if you employee people or engage consultants, freelancers or franchisees then there's all that too!!!

Time is running out and I'm getting booked up so get in touch!

What's this GDPR all about?

Some may be well on the way to be ready for GDPR whilst others will have this niggle in the back of their heads that this is something they really should be getting on with but no idea what to do!

GDPR (or General Data Protection Regulation to give it its mouthful title) comes into force in the UK on May 25th 2018 and is a change to the way in which we hold and use our customers and contacts information for all businesses no matter what size they are.

It may seem like a boring waste of time, a bit overwhelming to deal with or, with £25K fines for non-compliance, just scary.  Any which way, it needs to be done.

Over the coming weeks we will be giving step by step info in bite sized chunks to get yourself on track before May.  If you want to fast track or have any questions during that time please get in touch for a chat.

Step one - sort it out!

Whether you have a vast database of customers or a few business contacts on your phone, GDPR is a great opportunity to do that data clear out you've been putting off for ever!  This is the time to delete those contacts you know you are never going to use again and produce an active and worthwhile list.  Also make sure you have email addresses for all.

You may have recently started receiving pop-ups on websites and social media and emails from things you subscribe to asking if you they can still stay in touch - this is all because of GDPR.

One of the main changes is that companies can no longer assume you are happy to subscribe or only have the option to "opt out" - you must ask for active permission to hold their data.  This could be as simple as having a tick box option of "yes - I'm in" or "I agree" along side "no - I'm not in" or "I do not agree".  We will cross that bridge in a later blog.

That's great for new customers moving forward but must also be done for current clients.  By sorting your contacts out, you will then be able to do a mail shot asking if it's still OK to hold their data, why you want to hold it and what you will use it for.  

*This is the important bit!*  

On 25th May 2018, anyone who hasn't replied at all MUST be removed from your database or contacts.  It also should go without saying that if anyone replies with a "no" they should be removed immediately.

Chasing these clients down and getting them signed up can take time, so get sorting and get that email out!

Jessica Freeman, Owner Jessica Freeman HR