Great Job, Well Done, Thank You

We all crave recognition and appreciation. It is part of the human DNA. In Organisations this goes for managers as well as team members. In sport it goes for coaches as well as players. In families it goes for parents as well as children. We all seek validation and like to be valued by others and recognised for our efforts.

We as HR professionals need to be fully aware of the above and focussed on it. We have a responsibility to facilitate positive, proactive praise & recognition as part of our overall HR strategy. Modern-day workforces are demanding instant feedback and constant positive reinforcement when they deliver good results. They are no longer prepared to stay with companies who ignore this or who haphazardly engage in it.

Organisations who want to build strong engagement and higher performance levels need to invest in well thought-out and structured reward and recognition programs. The good news, to do so is not costly, at least not in financial terms. It does however require deep insights into your Organisation, your employees and what motivates them individually. Such programs must be developed into specific, visible, appropriate and timely recognition outcomes. They must be part of an overall culture tenet and moulded into a system that automatically recognises and rewards positive behaviours and work output.

Managers who seek to build teams, challenge them to innovate and strive for high performance will need to invest time and creativity in this arena. Authentic leadership will require such proactive effort.

My advice, never underestimate the power of recognition and personal appreciation. It correlates well with building effective engagement levels.

Employee Benefits – a critical part of any Total Reward Model. 12 reasons why

Employee benefits have always been an important component of the total reward package offered by Companies. These have evolved, with many traditional benefits now replaced with newer innovative ones. Regardless of their nature, employee benefits remain influential and necessary. Why? A number of compelling reasons persist:

  1. They can provide long term security for employees and their families (Pension, health, disability, death benefits etc.).
  2. They help build-out and crystallise Employer branding.
  3. They support employee attraction and retention of talent. This can be critical in a restricted labour market.
  4. They can often be provided in a tax efficient manner
  5. They can easily be outsourced to reduce internal company administration workloads.
  6. They can evolve, develop and change to match the key needs of employee population demographics.
  7. They offer much more flexibility and can be scaled upwards or downwards to match company performance or business cycles.
  8. They help differentiate companies in the marketplace and highlight where companies sit versus best marketplace practice.
  9. They are often (if designed appropriately) capable of strong cost control management.
  10. They can be offered to employees as a self-service menu option, allowing the selection of individualised benefits that mean most to each individual employee.
  11. They are open to greater creativity in terms of design, development, modification and delivery.
  12. They tend to be less aligned to Organisation Structures/levels and are well capable of being linked to performance, recognition, promotion and career progression.

Pay and benefits are key elements of a company’s compensation model. Frequently most thought and effort is targeted into the pay element. Don’t ignore the benefit element. If well designed and strategically structured, the benefit component will offer significant advantages to organisations. Taken together with progressive pay structures, it is a cornerstone of any fit for purpose HR model. Done properly it will enhance business performance and your business leaders will thank you. Done poorly it will become a non-productive expensive fixed business cost, you’re unlikely to be thanked for that. 

Food for thought?

The Latest piece of Irish Employment Legislation


The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 was passed into Irish statute law in December 2018 and becomes the law of the land from March 2019. What’s it about and why should employers and employees familiarise themselves with its key provisions.

It is a short and simple piece of legislation, but does pack a punch and has some significant impact of certain sectors and types of employments in Ireland. Here are its top line provisions and key objectives. Overall hard to argue with any of it.


From next month onwards all new hires will have a right to receive written notification of 5 key terms of employment, within the first 5 days of employment. Employers are now obliged to provide same within this new shorter timeframe. These terms relate to clarity around who the employer is and in particular what the contracted work hours are, daily and weekly. This obligation is new and is in addition to the existing requirement to provide written notification of 15 key terms of employment within the first 2 months of employment, as is already law. Failure to comply allows the employee seek compensation via the WRC and opens the employer to fines and/or imprisonment.


These are now effectively banned with only a few minor exceptions. These exceptions deal with situations where emergency cover is required at short notice. Industry should now no longer use these type of contracts and where they exist seek to normalise them to meet the new compliance landscape. Minimum payments and guaranteed contracted hours baselines are now introduced as protection against the use of same.


This new piece of Irish employment legislation introduces the concept of banded hour contracts. It guarantees the employee on one of these banded hour contracts, payment for at least the minimum hours associated with the band, if actual hours worked do not reach this level. There is a range of bands with different hours associated within each band. Employees can now make a claim to be covered by one of these bands, if their average hours over the last 12 months fall into this bracket. They can make a claim from day 1 of this legislation becoming law, as they are allowed average over a 12 month period prior to the legislation commencement. Employers will need to review existing contracts and actual employee hours worked to assess if they need to adjust payments to reflect this new reality.


Employers who violate the requirements imposed via this new law, will be subject to fines of up to €5k and or imprisonment of up to 12 months. Pretty severe penalties, not to be taken lightly. These fines will be administered via the Circuit Courts.

Employees can claim 4 weeks compensation where an employer is found in breach via the WRC and importantly can also claim up to 2 years remuneration compensation, where an employer is found to have penalised any employee who takes such a claim.


This new bill, the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018, becomes a statute act from March 1st this year, less than one month from now. I would advise all employers to review their employment contracts and just as importantly ensure they have robust mechanisms, for easily and accurately recording actual hours worked across their employee population.

If you receive an employee claim under its provisions, are you comfortable you can defend it successfully?.

Organisation Structure Design – 9 key deliberations

All modern organisations are in a constant state of change and flux. If your organisation’s structure is to best support the organisation, it too must be flexible and adaptable enough to facilitate flux and change. When you initially design your organisation structure (and every time you change or modify it thereafter), your design methodology should have this in mind. Key considerations will always include some or most of the following:

  1. Flat versus hierarchical Management levels
  2. Spans of control
  3. Centralised versus decentralised
  4. Teams versus Individual Contributors
  5. Geography versus Business or Product Line alignment
  6. Multi-skilled versus defined expert roles
  7. Remote versus local
  8. Permanent teams versus project built teams 
  9. Matrixed versus direct line accountability

There is no one best design or no one design that will best serve an organisation throughout its life cycle. Choices between alternative designs will regularly surface and they must be addressed to maintain continual growth and success.S

Compensation & Benefits Strategy – Top 10 design considerations

If you want to attract and retain high calibre talent in today’s competitive labour market, your Compensation & Benefits Program will need to be competitive with other companies operating in the same labour markets. It will need to be consistent with your business strategy and competitive on an industry wide and geograpical basis.

To meet these high aspirations you will need to consider all or most of the following, when designing and establishing the program elements & detail. It will need to:

  1. Have the ability to attract, motivate and retain both prospective and current employees
  2. Be flexible to adapt as the business grows, develops and meets new challenges
  3. Reward both Individual and Team Performance
  4. Reward skill development
  5. Reward flexibility, initiative and creativity
  6. Be easy to understand and communicate
  7. Be cost effective and affordable to the business
  8. Be simple and easy to administer
  9. Be straightforward to benchmark against your Industry norms and your competition for similar talent
  10. Compliment your Employer branding

Easier said than done. Worth the effort though. How does your company’s C&B model rate against the above best practice design criteria?

Reshaping & Realigning HR

Like all professions HR is constantly evolving and redefining itself as a profession. This is as it should be, the business world demands it. The key to the ongoing success of this evolution is to ensure that the profession remains up to date, current and directly aligned to the business goals it supports. Better still to be one step ahead and anticipating future needs and trends. Unfortunately, past experience suggests HR has not always stepped up to the plate when asked to contribute and frustrates business leaders who feel compelled to demand more from their HR Teams.

In this brief article I would like to outline current HR trends, list key HR competencies professionals in this field should seek to display, reference emerging challenges for HR and finally suggest what Business Leaders really want of their HR support colleagues.

HR trends

Over the last decade or so, the following trends and strategic intent have emerged in respect of the HR profession, as I see it.

(a) Significant outsourcing of HR activity

(b) Reduced size and layering of HR functions

(c) Reduced number of HR Generalists on HR Teams

(d) Increased number of Individual Contributors and HR Specialists

(e) Much stronger focus on use of Technology to drive HR efficiency & effectiveness

(f) Exciting emergence of HR Data Analytics in an effort to build more robust decision-making

(g) As a direct result of (f), closer liaison between HR and IT

Modern Day HR Competency Profile

To succeed and grow within HR, some key competencies are now rising to the top and are being demanded, but are also enabling HR widen and deepen its influence. They focus on:

(a) Strong and trusted Business ally to senior leadership

(b) Effective Organisational structure designer

(c) Comfortable with and aware of Technology

(d) The guardian of Organisation Culture

(e) Champion of change enablement

(f) Talent minder & nurturer

(g) Proactive operational action taker

Today’s HR Challenges

Today’s HR challenges haven’t changed that much over the last decade or so. They reflect the reality of globalisation and the never ending search for greater business effectiveness. The list includes:

(a) Winning the talent war through finding, developing, engaging and retaining resources

(b) Becoming more strategically aware and being accepted as a Business Partner

(c) Building a unique Employer brand, in an effort to become the employer of choice

(d) Embedding agility, flexibility and adaptability into the Organisation psyche

(e) Embracing the use of Technology

(f) Recognising the employee population as an asset, but an asset that has to generate and deliver a measureable return.

So what do Business Leaders demand of HR

Taking all of the above into account and distilling it into real helpful meaning for Business Leaders, sees them demand the following of their HR Teams.

(a) Maintaining a strong, full Leadership Pipeline

(b) Growing and developing Talent at all levels

(c) Making more use of new Technology to help teams collaborate & share

(d) Keeping the Organisation change capable

(e) Ensuring the Organisation Structure is fit for purpose at all times and remodelled to suit changing needs

(f) Moulding an Organisation culture that supports the Organisations Strategy

(g) Supporting decision-making through better use of workforce analytics

Asking and demanding a lot I know, but HR can deliver and position itself to become a trusted ally of & to the Business and its senior leaders. Doing so will earn the right to be seen as one of them.

The Right people are more important than The Right Strategy

Jack Welch the retired ex-CEO of General Electric (GE) said, “getting the right people in the right jobs is a lot more important than developing a strategy”. He may well be right, and I would suggest that finding the right talent and developing their full potential should actually be a key part of your overall business strategy. Recruiting new talent is likely to be a €1m investment decision. It is not to be taken lightly and requires a robust process. You should approach it like any other business investment decision and seek to minimise poor decision-making and eliminate as much risk as possible from the outcome. If you are investing a €1m+ over an average career tenure, you need to be sure you are making a good investment and will see a good return on your investment. So how can you increase the likelihood of success? By following a disciplined step by step focussed recruitment & selection process. Best practice will utilise most or all of the following stages, typically in this order;

The hiring process stages

Role Justification (title/level/salary/role summary/why now needed/consequences of not hiring). Normally completed by the hiring manager and passed up the Organisation for approval.

Job Description (fulltime/part-time/permanent/temporary/contract/detail role duties & responsibilities/reporting lines). Hiring manager normally develops this.

Person Specification (education/experience/competencies). Responsibility of the hiring manager to complete with the job description, both used to create job adverts.

Role advertising (recruitment agencies/social media/radio/newspapers/trade journals/employee referrals/company website/career open days)

Selection Process (screening/interviewing/testing/competency profiling/assessment centres/personality traits insights)

Interviewing (competency/motivational fit/behavioural based questioning techniques)

Candidate Vetting (reference checks/pre-employment medical/drug screening/qualification verification/permit validating)

Job Offer Process

New employee on-boarding Process

Induction Training

Probationary Period Management


Quite a detailed process and often time consuming, which doesn’t help in the current skill gap shortage economies we work in. However take shortcuts at your peril. As someone once said, “if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, try hiring an amateur”.