For the last few years there’s been heavy snow during the winter months.  It’s likely that we’ll have snow this year too.  It’s best to prepare to both protect your business and to ensure that your staff what to do in adverse weather.  Below are a few tips to help you prepare.

  1. During “snow-days” staff are expected, wherever possible, to make all reasonable efforts to safely make their own way to work.  However, think about what impact the snow might have on your business.   Do you need your staff to come into work, or can they do some work from home?
  2. Let your staff know in advance whether or not they will be paid for that day’s work.  Most organisations state that “snow-days” can either be taken a holiday or are unpaid.  However, if you have arranged for the member of staff to work from home that day, then the day will be paid at the normal pay rate.
  3. Determine how you will communicate with your staff during adverse weather.  Set a time by which they will have to call into work to inform you whether or not they will be attending that day [and if so, what time]. Think about how this arrangement will impact your customers or clients.
  4. Most transport issues are generally confined to the “first 100 yards” of an employee’s journey into work. You should advise your employees to:
  • Not to park their cars on sloping driveways
  • Park on roads that are gritted and walking to and from their car
  • Make contact with colleagues who live nearby to arrange car shares
  • Check and use public transport services where possible

Government Cuts: Lessons from the NHS

On Sunday morning, I woke up to hear the news that Government Departments are being asked to draw up savings plans that equate to 25% or 40% of their budget.  This news left me with a foreboding feeling.

I think this is because I’ve been there.  Whilst the majority believe that the NHS has had a decade of plenty, some Trusts have been through some tough financial times.  A number of years ago, when I returned from one of my maternity leaves, I found myself as a Director of HR in a Trust with significant financial issues.   (The reason for the financial mess we found ourselves in has been documented in a public inquiry and isn’t the subject of this blog.)

Achieving a 25% cut in budget, let alone a 40% cut is going to be difficult.  If I had to live through it all again, then this is what I would be saying:

1) As a starter for 10, work out what is core business and what isn’t.   If it it isn’t core business, stop doing it – unless it generates income.

2) Once you have defined your core business, face the fact that this level of cuts isn’t about trimming around the edges.  This is about service redesign.

3) To achieve substantial savings you will need to be creative and innovate in your approach to service design.  Consider the impossible, because that might just be the option that you eventually decided to take.

4) Be brave.  You will need to take a number of calculated risks if you’re going to be successful in achieving your savings.

5) Don’t drag out the planning stage. Staff will want to know as soon as possible whether they are in or out.  They may not like the truth about their future employment, but they would rather know than being left in “limbo”, waiting to hear.

6)  Think through the implications of any “quick (savings) wins”  before you implement them.  For example, don’t stop the usage of all temporary staff (bank / agency).  Downstream, you’ll end up having to back-track on such decisions and this will undermine your credibility as a manager.

7) Whatever you do, you are not going to be popular.  Accept this and work hard at your communications strategy to compensate for this.

8 ) Stay (legally) safe: Don’t cut corners when it comes to your employment contracts.  In an era where you’re trying to save money, the last thing you need is to have to face a number of ETs – which will cost the organisation time and money.

I decided to stay with my Trust when we were in Turnaround, but a lot of my colleagues jumped ship early on.  I felt that I would benefit from the experience,  but it left me jaded and I lost the passion for my job which gets me out of bed every morning.  For those managers in government faced with this current challenge:  I wish them luck.