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HR is probably the one department globally that faces the brunt of rumours, biases and misunderstandings in the workplace.  We don’t always have a positive reputation. In fact, many employees hate them or avoid them at all costs and only view them as an occasional intermediary.

Of course, we have to take time to understand the business, its strategy and its objectives. For example, if they wanted to increase profit by ten per cent over the next five years, we would need to know how they will resource that; what kinds of skills do they need; have they already got the talent in-house; are their employees engaged?

The HR remit is huge. For every plan or project in the business strategy, there will be an element that HR has to support, whether it’s recruitment, talent management, appraisals, training … we touch so many different areas.

If you’re in leadership, you’re in HR.

HR Myth #1 – HR Is Out to Get You!

The scary stories around this teach us not to trust the HR boogeymen.  It has been told that any information shared with HR folks can (and will) be used against you.  Usually, this myth is formed when a few employees have had bad experiences with those dreadful HR people.  People think we are spies for the leaders. Not true. We provide feedback at all levelsmeaning we talk about talent and how people are performing to leaders. We often point out things that the leader might not see. We take the temperature of the organization and help leaders understand if there are issues in the culture that they may not see. Our job is to understand what is going on with peopleWe ask questions and make observations... That can look like the CIA to some, I guess! 

MYTH #2 —  HR Will Become Obsolete Soon

Some professionals think that HR departments will become obsolete because newer artificial intelligence platforms and self-service tools will be able to screen and interview job applicants, keep employees informed, keep track of employee information, and much more.

However, newer investments in HR technology will make these departments and professionals even more necessary, as they will still be needed to keep the “human intelligence” in HR while using newer and more advanced tech.

HR Myth #3 –  You can’t give a “bad” reference

Aside from exceptional limited sectors there is actually no obligation for an employer to provide a reference.  However, if a reference is provided then it should be fair, accurate and not misleading. When providing a reference, employers should stick to evidenced based facts, otherwise they could find themselves open to legal challenge from either the ex- employee or new employer for misleading them. For this reason, many employers choose only to provide what are known as “tomb-stone” references, which literally only sets out the basic confirmation of employment details.

HR Myth #4 – HR Merely Listens to Employee Complaints

This myth seems to be perpetuated by poor HR practitioners and those who have had a bad experience with them. Some employees can feel that HR merely pays them lip service when listening to complaints, but that’s not how the process should be functioning.

Even small complaints should be investigated where possible as they can compound into much larger issues. It’s important to note complaints too in case documentation is required at a later date.

HR Myth #5 – They Exist Solely to Protect the Company

While it’s true that HR practitioners work to document and provide policies that protect the employer, they can also benefit the employee too. Where an employee highlights workplace issues like discrimination, bullying or unfair treatment, they can work to solve this.

HR Myth #6 – They Can’t be Strategic

When companies bring HR into the boardroom and use their insights, it can harness the full power of understanding their people. They have the potential to act strategically and weigh in on important decisions using real evidence.

HR Myth #6 –  HR is ‘Fluffy – Why HR is no longer the pink and fluffy discipline but central to business strategy

How things have changed! When I first started in HR two decades ago, it was generally seen as rather pink and fluffy – a nice-to-have but a nonessential part of the business. Back then many in HR had been secretaries and it was seen largely as an administrative role.

But, then, progressive companies started to recognise the importance of having an HR strategy and putting their staff at the centre of the business. Now, the heads of HR departments work alongside the operational board to make sure that all initiatives are implemented – HR planning and strategy really drives the business.

HR Myth #7 – You can’t dismiss an employee for poor performance

You can dismiss any employee for poor performance (under the Employment Rights Act the term is “capability”). Ultimately use your capability or performance management process and work that through to the end.

When dismissing for poor performance, it is essential to consider the employee’s wider situation to ensure that discrimination is not an issue. This will involve making sure that the employee’s poor performance is not in some way linked to a protected characteristic.

HR Myth #8 – You can’t contact employees when they are off sick

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees and that duty doesn’t end when they leave the workplace at the end of the day. In fact, this duty extends to employers making sure that they “keep in touch” and maintain regular contact with their employees when they are signed off to see how they are doing.

Regular contact with a sick employee should be compassionate and focus on their wellbeing not just enquiring when they will return to work.

HR Myth #9 – Employees with under two years’ service have no rights

Employees with under two years’ service can’t bring ordinary unfair dismissal claims.  They can, however, bring claims for breach of contract, for holiday pay, discrimination, maternity rights, whistle-blowing, protective awards, and most other employment claims.  Some of these rights (such as discrimination) begin even before the employment relationship has started.

HR Myth #10 – Employers have to give time off for bank holidays

Employees have no right to bank holidays off, or to be paid more for working them. This entirely depends on the contract between the employee and employer. Full-time employees are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday a year and bank holidays can be counted as part of those 5.6 weeks, but they don’t have to be.

The latest HSE statistics reveal some interesting points that highlight the state of health and safety in the UK, between 2020 and 2021

2020/21 has firmly rooted health and safety in our day-to-day lives and our cultural consciousness. However, the latest statistics from the HSE prove we still have a long way to go. Simon Walter, Co-Director at Rhino Safety, shares his thoughts on what the focus should be in 2022.

 

  • Work-related ill-health cases increased from 1.6 million to 1.7 million
  • New cases of work-related ill health rose from 638,000 to 850,000, a 33% increase
  • The number of workers suffering from a new case of work-related stress, anxiety and depression rose by 30%, from 347,000 to 451,000
  • The major cause of new and long-standing cases of work-related ill-health is stress, depression and anxiety, which accounts for an astonishing 50% of cases
  • Musculoskeletal issues are next at 28%, while other types of illnesses account for 22%, Workers suffering from a new case of work-related musculoskeletal disorder rose by 6.5% from 152,000 to 162,000
  • Workers who sustained non-fatal injuries (self-reported) decreased by 36%. Non-fatal injuries reported by employers also fell by 22%
  • The major cause of non-fatal injuries across all industries is slips, trips and falls. In 2019/20 it accounted for 29% of incidents. In 2020/21 it rose to 33%
  • Fatal injuries at work rose from 111 in 2019/20 to 142 in 2020/21. The major cause of fatal injuries is falling from height, which is consistent with previous years
  • Over half of fatal injuries to workers in 2020/21 were in agriculture, forestry and fishing (34%) and construction sectors (39%)

Looking at these statistics, there’s a lot to reflect on. Among them are things we can do in 2022 to ensure that health and safety remain at the forefront of policy and strategy across a wide range of industries and sectors.

So – what are the key things we should focus on to move the dial on health and safety in 2022?

1. Keep health and safety in focus

2. Prioritise and incorporate mental health and wellbeing into health and safety practice/policies etc

3. Reduce the threat of musculoskeletal disorders across multiple industries

Read what the latest Public Health guidance means for your business

The guidance appears therefore to be quite confusing. On the one hand COVID safety measures are no longer required for the majority of businesses, but on the other the guidance to self-isolate has been significantly widened. This leaves employers in a real bind as to what to do and leaves open the ongoing significant interruption to business that periods of self-isolation create. Employers will need to give thought to what, if any, other protective measures (such as screens and sanitiser) they wish to retain should they wish to insist on those suffering from a respiratory illness coming to work.

What to do if a member of staff has symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19

If a member of staff is unwell with symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, they should follow the guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection such as COVID-19.

Employers, in accordance with their legal obligations, may wish to consider how best to support and enable their workforce to follow this guidance as far as possible.

Management of members of staff who are at risk of serious illness from COVID-19

Some workers are at a greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19, for example people who have a weakened immune system.

There is specific guidance for people whose immune system means that they are at higher risk, because they have a reduced ability to fight infections, such as COVID-19. Employers may wish to consider the needs of employees at greater risk from COVID-19, including those whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

It is unclear whether there will be any specific updates to the Living with COVID plan but pulling together the various strands we now know:

 

The guidance is to be updated monthly and we will have to see what impact the loss of free mass testing and the updated self-isolation requirements will have.

Symptomatic testing

Symptomatic testing in high-risk settings, where infection can spread rapidly among people who may be at higher risk of serious illness, remains important to ensure that COVID-19 is detected as quickly as possible.

This is to help minimise the number and impact of outbreaks to protect those who are most vulnerable.

Free tests for people who have COVID-19 symptoms will continue to be provided to the following groups, largely via the existing channels:

  • NHS patients in hospital, who will be tested via the established NHS testing programme
  • those eligible for COVID-19 antiviral and other treatments, who will be sent a pack of tests and can request replacements if they need them
  • NHS staff and staff working in NHS-funded independent healthcare provision – the current lateral flow test ordering portal will remain available for this group to order their own tests
  • adult social care staff in care homes, homecare organisations, extra care and supported living settings and adult day care centres, as well as residents in care homes and extra care and supported living settings via the established organisation ordering portal
  • adult social care social workers, personal assistants, Shared Lives carers and CQC inspectors will be able to order tests from the current online lateral flow ordering system
  • staff and patients in hospices will be supplied tests by the hospice
  • staff and detainees in prisons and other places of detention will be supplied tests by by the detention premises as currently happens
  • staff and detainees in immigration removal centres will be supplied tests, as currently happens, by the organisation concerned
  • staff and users of high-risk domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings

Asymptomatic testing

During periods of high prevalence, asymptomatic testing will continue to mitigate risk. Testing will continue to be provided for:

  • adult social care staff and a small number of visitors providing personal care
  • hospice staff
  • patient-facing staff in the NHS and NHS-funded independent healthcare provision
  • some staff in prisons and other places of detention, and some refuges and shelters

Care home outbreak testing for all staff and residents will also continue all year.

Full guidance will be published shortly setting out how the current testing regimes will change to reflect the Living with COVID-19 strategy, which will include specific guidance for high-risk settings.

Visitors to high-risk settings

Most visitors to adult social care settings, the NHS, hospices, prisons or places of detention will no longer require a test.

Tests will continue to be provided to a small number of visitors to care homes and hospices who will be providing personal care.

Visits by people with symptoms may still be allowed in exceptional circumstances, such as end of life visits. Please contact someone responsible at the setting prior to visiting in these circumstances.

If you wish to test yourself, lateral flow tests will continue to be available to buy from pharmacies and supermarkets, including online.

It is vital that everyone continues to follow the simple steps to keep themselves and others safe.

Changes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

The devolved governments have set out their own plans:

The government will continue to work together with our partners to keep all of these measures under review.

If you do not fall into the categories listed here but you wish to test yourself for COVID-19, lateral flow tests will continue to be available to buy from pharmacies and supermarkets, including online.

Changes to COVID-19 testing in England from 1 April – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

I am so super proud today to announce that I am now a qualified MHFA (Mental Health First Aider), 1 of 100 that The Jordan Legacy CIC and Steve Phillip will achieve as part of their 2021 / 22 Campaign

 

A Huge Thank you to Tara Powell Our Fabulous Facilitator; and the Super Supportive Great Team of like minded, genuine and caring humans, thank you to those who also bravely shared their own ‘lived’ stories, there were some truly emotional moments
It is difficult to ‘sum’ up the MHFA Training, as those that know me well, know ‘i am not really a girl with few words’…….
Therefore here are some words instead; early intervention, suicide, recovery, listen, communication, warning signs, support, signpost, seeds of hope, positive change, structure, zero suicide, advocate, language, remove assumptions, non-judgemental, safeguard, triggers, self-care, WRAP, wellbeing strategies, duty of care, social responsibility, positive mental health, emotional intelligence (EI), ALGEE, myths and facts, statistics… the list could go on and on…..
Let us all remember Our own social responsibility; to help break down the negative stigma surrounding mental ill health and encourage more and more people to open up, let’s push and drive this positive change forward, whether in the workplace, in your personal life or with a stranger.

Remember it could be ‘You’ who makes that positive difference and plants those ‘seeds of hope’

Dee Newton – HR Business Partner – Craven HR Services 

 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a training course which teaches people how to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue.

MHFA won’t teach you to be a therapist, but it will teach you to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis – and even potentially stop a crisis from happening.
You’ll learn to recognise warning signs of mental ill health, and develop the skills and confidence to approach and support someone while keeping yourself safe.
You’ll also learn how to empower someone to access the support they might need for recovery or successful management of symptoms. This could include self-help books or websites, accessing therapy services through their GP, their school or place of work, online self-referral, support groups, and more.
What’s more, you’ll gain an understanding of how to support positive wellbeing and tackle stigma in the world around you. This online course qualifies you as a Mental Health First Aider, giving you:
  • An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing 
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix
  • Certification to say you are a Mental Health First Aider
  • A manual to refer to whenever you need it
  • A quick reference card for the Mental Health First Aid action plan
  • A workbook including a helpful toolkit to support your own mental health

Interested in becoming or sponsoring a MHFA?  https://thejordanlegacy.com/how-you-can-sponsor-or…/

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