HR Nitty-Gritty: Lesley from The HR Kiosk

by Duncan

1. How has HR changed since you first entered the sector?
Ie been in HR for 25 years now, nearly 20 years in large UK Media organizations and 6 years as a freelance consultant offering services to small businesses who have no HR department or where their HR Manager needs occasional specialist help. The size of a business will make a difference to what HR actually does (Employee Engagement, for example, is a concept that is unheard of in most small businesses, but that does not mean they are not doing it they are if they are practicing the fundamentals of good leadership and management and motivate their staff and allow them to have a voice in the workplace) but the fundamentals of the core HR job has not changed - administration, contracts/letters, handling and resolving staffing issues such as sacking staff! Technology and new laws obviously impact on the work that needs to be done but the main focus of HR stays the same.

2. How are HR departments managing / promoting employee engagement nowadays?
In my last job as an employed HR Manager (at the BBC) I would say that employee engagement initiatives were generally viewed (by everyone below Director level) as another values initiative to tick some boxes; and were generally treated with cynicism. None of my current HR clients know what employee engagement is but they are hopefully doing this every day without realising it! - affecting staff attitudes (so they have pride and loyalty in the company), staff behaviors (they go the extra mile) and staff outcomes (higher productivity, good retention, lower sickness absence), some of which can of course be difficult to measure to know if it is working.

3. What's the most common HR mistake you see?
In large companies, where management can be ineffective (but valued for their core skills), it's a balancing act for HR Managers between meeting the demands of the managers and the staff because managers are not always right! In smaller companies, its the managers reluctance to deal with under-performing or problem staff until they absolutely have no choice; and then the manager gets annoyed and makes bad decisions.

4. What's the future for the HR department, what does HR's role look like in 10-15 years?
Fads come and go, usually with a different name! No doubt there will be more legislation. HR and all Businesses will have to deal with a myriad of issues bought up by technology and employees use of this and social media in and outside of the workplace and what this will actually mean to businesses.

5. What are some of your favorite websites for HR news?
Personnel Today, HR Magazine, Recruiter and Lexology for employment law updates.

6. What does your company specialise in?
My Consultancy, The HR Kiosk, specialises in helping small businesses provide appropriate employment documents and then helping them deal with any staffing issues they have that need to be handled with care providing pragmatic advice with the aim of reaching an amicable solution where possible and avoiding conflict, but reinforcing the employers position and allowing them to focus on running their business. I also offer a service to help Independent Contractors and Freelancers as I have extensive experience of working with freelancers in the media and have detailed knowledge of the Working Time Regulations, the Agency Workers Regulations and IR35. Since 2006 I have also been managing a free employment advice website called Workline and here I write employment related articles and answer queries from employees, workers, freelancers and employers. Workline is sat on the Freelance Advisor website and we have been nominated as a finalist for the Best Employment Advice Website at the National Online Recruitment Awards 2013. I also regularly get asked to contribute to blogs and websites on HR/freelance issues and in August 2013 I was asked to appear as the HR Expert on a Channel 4 Dispatches programme looking at dodgy employment practices which was aired in October called "The Secret of your Pay Packet" (I declined the offer!).

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