Category Archives: work life balance

What does employee engagement mean to you?

To a lot of people absolutely nothing. I suppose it’s not that surprising after all the term ’employee engagement’ isn’t that  inspiring or exciting.

I had expected business people to be more aware though; after all when you hear quotes like ‘85% more profit’ and ‘50% less absence’ in this economic climate you’d expect to see business owner/managers ears prick up. Maybe in the UK we’re just conditioned to hearing negative news stories (like how much a company had to pay out when they lost a tribunal) that when something positive comes along we miss it*/ignore it*/don’t believe it * (*please delete as appropriate)

Then there are those that have heard of ’employee engagement’ but, mistakenly, think it’s far too expensive for them to do anything about it.  Fair enough engagement does sound expensive if you

  1. only associate it with big companies (who have deep pockets)
  2. and weddings (…may also require deep pockets)!

Employee engagement is relevant to every organisation that wants to stay in business or grow.

It’s the extras that make a wedding expensive. The big statement dress, the huge number of guests – the ceremony itself is not.

And that goes for employee engagement too.

Of course you can have glossy brochures, and tailor made training programs if you want but its really just about good systems, good management and leadership. Things like giving people clear targets and goals and sharing information about how the business is performing don’t have to cost anything. Except perhaps a bit of time and effort. But when you calculate the returns you can expect from engaging your people (unlike a wedding) you’ll understand you can quickly recover any costs that you might incur.

Then there are the people who, despite talking about engaging customers for years, think engaging your people is a pink and fluffy ‘nice to have’.  Take a look at this latest report published on the newly launched website today (the product of a government taskforce on employee engagement) 94% of the world’s most admired companies believe that their efforts to engage their employees have created a competitive advantage

So can I ask you again – what does employee engagement mean to you?


Employee Absence does not make the heart grow fonder!

Sickness, holidays, sickness absence…this topic has been all over the news so I thought it would be useful to offer some practical advice and say don’t despair it’s not as bad as it seems.

The recent European ruling in ANGED v FASGA and others held that workers who fall ill during their holiday may take this time as sick leave and reschedule their holiday to another time.

To minimise the risk of this I suggest you consider updating your sickness procedure to include the following:

  1. Require that people provide a sickness/fit note, at their own expense, to cover each day of pre-booked holiday that they are off sick for
  2. To qualify it should be clear that their sickness has actually made them unfit for work i.e. an ear infection may stop someone swimming while on holiday but does not mean that they cannot do their job!
  3. Clarify in your policy that this does not apply to any additional leave provided at the discretion of the company/in excess of the working time regulations.
  4. Remember that unless you have a company sick pay scheme employees will only qualify for Statutory Sick Pay and this is not payable for the first 3 days of sickness absence.
  5. If you have a company sick pay scheme you may find it beneficial to make payments under the scheme discretionary rather than contractual; this may not be possible for existing staff but should be a consideration for new employees.

Another important case NHS V Larner means that employees on long term sick leave can continue to accrue annual leave and are automatically allowed to carry it forward. Most organisations don’t let their employees carry over leave from one year to the next but this case means that people returning to work after sickness can!

What is perhaps worse is the implication that employees on long term absence whose employment is terminated can claim payment for all the holiday they have accrued during the period of their absence: so someone who has been off sick for 2 years would be entitled to be paid for 8 weeks holiday. There is no guidance, yet, on how far back employees can claim.

So what can you do?

  1. Make it clear in your contracts that only statutory holiday entitlement may be carried over.
  2. Consider compelling employees to take annual leave while on sick leave, and pay them accordingly: this will at least spread the cost however it is not yet clear whether this would be allowable under the ruling.
  3. Act promptly in respect of long term sickness issues: take appropriate and reasonable action to minimise the accrual of annual leave from one year to the next.

Of course this isn’t all you should be thinking about.

Prevention is better than cure and research shows that employee engagement is one remedy you can’t afford to ignore.

Did you know Employers lost about 131 million working days as a result of sickness in 2011: that’s 4.5 days per person. 57% of people say they take time when they are not actually ill; 23% report sick due to relationship issues, 25% because they just want a day off and 6% to avoid a problem at work.

Do you know what the average number of days sickness is in your organisation?  Most SME’s don’t.

Did you know that organisations with a higher proportion of engaged employees suffer 50% less sickness absence than organisations with more disengaged employees?

To find out how to create an environment that drives performance (and attendance) then just ask3ease for more information or

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Is it OK to be emotional at work?

Please don’t tell me you’ve never got annoyed by something or someone at work… I wouldn’t believe you. We all get like that at some point.

Depending on the strength of feeling some of us will have a grumble to a colleague to get it off our chest: someone who shares the same values as us and will understand how we feel. And, when we look back, we’ll often justify our emotions by saying things like ‘I wouldn’t feel like that if I didn’t care’. This is quite normal on an occasional basis and doesn’t affect how we perform or how we feel about our jobs and the work we do.

But imagine if we didn’t have someone to talk to. What if we got annoyed or frustrated by something, or someone at work on a more frequent basis? What affect would that have on our work? How would it affect other people?

Emotion isn’t really acceptable in the workplace is it? People who show their emotions are often seen as negative, weak and unable to handle pressure. We all have to deal with negative emotions sometimes and most of us have found ways of controlling them so they don’t ‘get the better of us’: it’s an unwritten rule that ‘professionals’ control their emotions  in meetings, phone-calls and emails.

Of course some emotions are more acceptable e.g. excitement, optimism. When ‘controlled’ and ‘professionally’ managed  these emotions are considered to be positive attributes in the workplace.

Passion is an emotion admired in business. It conjures up a picture of someone successful, a person with energy and drive.

Passion:  “strong and barely controllable emotion”

Passionate:  “having, showing, or caused by strong feelings or beliefs”

Oxford Dictionary

Employers want to employ people with passion. Passionate people are more innovative, more committed, apply greater effort and perform better. Passion at work is used to describe positive emotions.

Of course just because you’re passionate you’re not automatically better at relationships, more honest, skilled or talented. Passion is an emotion just like the others and passionate people can behave just as well, or as badly, as any other ’emotional’ people – the purpose and intent behind the emotion remains key.

As an Employer you can’t simply demand passion, or expect it: employee passion describes a positive emotion that, like employee engagement, results from how people feel about things like the work they do, relationships with their colleagues and manager and opportunities for learning.

Anyway there you have it  – it’s OK to be passionate at work. Passion is an emotional state in demand by employers (because passionate people are better performers).

So are your people emotional or passionate?

If you want to find out how to attract passionate people to work with you and if you’d like to know how to create an environment where passion (and therefore performance) will flourish then the simplest way to find out is ask: 3ease for more information or

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When only the best will do

Deciding to recruit a new employee is a big decision and most of us would agree it’s important to get it right. Choosing the wrong person would be a waste of time, effort and money and impact on business performance.

Would you employ someone who

  • turned up late for interview?
  • argued with you during their interview?
  • couldn’t remember what job they had applied for?
  • looked like they had just crawled out of bed?
  • didn’t convince you they could do the job (or that they wanted to learn)?
  • wouldn’t get on with your other staff?
  • bad mouthed their last employer?

Why is that so many people do?

Time and time again I’ve seen managers justify these very decisions because they ‘don’t have time to wait’.

These are the kinds of behaviours we associate with disengaged employees. Disengaged employees make mistakes, miss deadlines, let down their colleagues and customers and don’t care. Believe me you have time to wait!

So if you’re thinking about recruiting do yourself, your business and your team a favour, don’t compromise.

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Are your people rejuvenated or disengaged after their holiday?

Holidays are good for you – 84% of us agree.

For most of us they’re an opportunity to take a break, change the routine, switch off and relax. Apparently 70% of people said, in a survey last year, they went on holiday to ‘escape’ from work. I thought the wording was a bit strong until I read that 67% of us say it takes up to 4 days to stop worrying about work!

It’s hardly surprising, once we’ve wound down, we then want to have deep and meaningful conversations about our lives and our futures. Our favourite topics are work life balance and getting fitter (yep I definitely had that discussion more than once over the dinner table while enjoying my nightly 3 course dinner).

Those conversations inevitably lead us on to making some mid year resolutions – spend more time with the kids/spouse/dog, leave work earlier, get fit, get a new job.

Will your employees return to work raring to go or raring to leave? What impact will that have on your business?

Do you know what people think of the worklife balance in your organisation? The simplest way to find out is to ask…


thoughts from 3ease

Half way through an incredibly busy and exciting year for 3ease and looking back I am really proud of the huge amount we have achieved in this short period of time.

Now’s the time for a little R&R: I’m looking forward to a break, the opportunity to spend time with my family and switch off knowing that I’ll come back all the better for it.

Unfortunately not everyone views holidays in the same way as illustrated by the results of a recent survey I saw;

  • One in four managers think it’s acceptable to call employees while they’re on holiday
  • Staff who haven’t gone to far-off destinations are considered “fair game” for texts, phone calls and emails
  • One in three managers believe staff should expect to be called while on holiday if they’ve failed to tie things up properly before leaving.
  • One in ten managers think that employees provided with a company mobile phone should expect to receive calls when on leave.

Remember that the manager, employee relationship is a key driver of happiness and engagement at work. If you want to (start to) ruin your relationship with your people then attacking their personal time is a great place to start!

And if you’re still not convinced that this matters consider another survey which found that 50% of life changing decisions (like moving house, getting married &  changing jobs !) are made following a decision made on holiday.

What will you do?

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