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The past two years have marked another huge period of change for companies everywhere. A global pandemic, a continuing skills shortage, the sustained adoption of technology and a reset of the employee-company power relationship, amongst other things, are all contributing to a big shift in the world of work.

As many companies now prepare for more permanent ways of working post-pandemic, it is the perfect time to reassess your practices to ensure you and your organisation are ready for the next stage.

While there are countless considerations for organisations and HR teams in assessing and managing their workplace, from work models to culture, and everything in between, we want to take a look at some of the important things that many might miss!

So, let’s take a deeper look at some of those less obvious areas. Check out our insights and guidance on 4 key things HR teams must consider!

Review policies and procedures

An employee handbook contains all the policies, procedures, rules and regulations that your employee needs to know about working in your business. It provides your employees with written instruction on what is deemed acceptable behaviour in the workplace, what is expected of them, and what they can expect in return. It can also communicate your business’ values, mission statement and culture to future employees.

If your business already has a staff handbook in place, it is crucial that you keep it up to date. Given the current climate and the huge effect that the recent pandemic has had on working practices, many businesses have been operating under unfamiliar circumstances. Temporary policies regarding remote working, sick pay, annual leave and other areas may have been updated for relevancy.  At the time, such changes may have been considered temporary or makeshift. However, now it is becoming clear that workplaces are likely forever changed, as we emerge out of the pandemic towards more long-term practices. It therefore makes sense to revisit which policies were adapted for relevancy and whether there is sense in permanently changing these in the employee handbook.

As mentioned, an employee handbook also allows you to communicate your organisations culture and values. It is one of the first chances you have to create a lasting impression of your organisation and help to instil a feeling of stability and trust in your employee.

When refreshing your business’s employee handbook, you might want to consider some of the following areas:

  • The narrative throughout. A handbook should be exciting for employees to read, so think about how you use language and tone of voice to communicate your company’s culture, values and goals. Develop style principles so that any future amendments to the handbook can easily adhere to the same style.
  • The design. The employee handbook carries certain legal ramifications. While clarity is therefore vitally important, you can still create a design that both fits with your business’ branding and communicates your culture clearly. Disqus is one company that actually splits the two, incorporating a ‘legal’ half and a ‘fun’ half. Think of the use of colour, font, illustrations and images. If you have the resources, a graphic designer will be able to help you create a template that really stands out.
  • The presentation. You might want to think outside the box on this one. Consider how you can present your handbook to your employees in a way that is fun and engaging. Some companies, such as Netflix and HubSpot, display theirs via a slide share. Other companies, such as project management software business, Trello, create their employee handbooks using their own product.

Is it time to update your policies and procedures? Check out this podcast episode for guidance!

What legislation do we need to keep an eye on this year? Check out this free webinar!

Is it Time to Rehaul Your Staff Handbook? Read more here!

Recruitment & onboarding

The people you hire and how you hire them will have an enormous impact on your company’s culture, and HR should align their recruitment practices with the organisation’s core values.

As many companies have faced redundancies and/or unprecedented movement due to the great resignation and the war for talent, recruitment and onboarding has never been so timely.

Firstly, let’s take a look at your recruitment process. Are you putting in place processes and policies that will boost and grow your company culture and recovery from the pandemic?

Are you hiring for a ‘good fit’ (please don’t) or are you being inclusive, and doing things such as;

  • Writing inclusive job descriptions
  • Using ‘blind hiring’ techniques when shortlisting candidates
  • Implementing unconscious bias training
  • Allowing for reasonable adjustments at interviews
  • Tracking diversity hiring metrics
  • Offering targeted internships

So then, when it comes to plucking out the useful data for assessing your recovery, are you asking yourself these important questions?

  • Are you seeing an increased uptake in staff referrals (refer a new hire)?
  • Are you asking people who have just joined your organisation, what made your company stand out?
  • Are you asking about company culture in your 30/60/90 day meetings with new hires?
  • Is it taking more/less time to fill roles?
  • Are new hires taking part in your CSR and other activities?

As we discussed in our Labour Market Outlook podcast with Donal O’ Donoghue, the war for talent is as much about keeping your people, as it is about attracting them. Like almost all organisations, there will have been changes in how your company operates and how that has affected your company culture. Asking yourself these questions can help you reset, understand where your organisation now stands, and ensure you’re fully prepped for the future.

Listen to an Irish success story who successfully recruited and onboarded over 200 staff, in this podcast episode!

Performance management

Performance management is essentially the process of creating a work environment or structure in which your people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities. It is about establishing a culture where employees and teams share responsibility for the continuous improvement of business processes and their own skills and behaviours.

In turn, company culture and performance management are intrinsically linked, so measuring and analysing your performance management data should also help you paint the picture of where your organisation stands.

The danger here, is focusing on performance before focusing on culture. Our key takeaway in this regard – think about culture first, and performance will follow.

For example, Microsoft’s cut-throat competitiveness has been greatly transformed by Satya Nadella who took charge of the company in 2014.

A program was embarked upon for refining the company culture in favour of continuous learning. The employees were encouraged to improve themselves instead of proving themselves, and the company today has a market cap of $1 trillion.

For those of you who have had to adapt the workforce for remote or hybrid working, your performance management should also have followed suit, aligning to new ways of working and a positive company culture.

For companies of all sizes, analysis of performance management, in particular, will give you a sense of how embedded your company culture actually is, and where you may need to improve.

For guidance on performance management in a hybrid world, watch our recent webinar on this topic, on demand, here!

Disciplinaries and grievances

When trying to ascertain what HR data is useful to you when assessing business recovery, many organisations forget to analyse their disciplinary and grievance data. While it may seem obvious to analyse trends in workplace conflict, many organisations look elsewhere when piecing the puzzle together.

Workplaces can often be a breeding ground for conflicts. Differences in personality can lead to clashes between employees. Quirky behaviours or personality traits can cause annoyance, tension and even anger. A variety of cultural backgrounds may lead to disagreements on what is considered acceptable behaviour in the workplace. Jealousy, infighting, and disputes with management can all lead to workplace conflict.

While some workplace conflicts may be minor and get resolved quite easily, others can prove trickier. Bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, disciplinary issues and grievances are all highly sensitive issues. Mismanagement, or failure to resolve the conflict efficiently, can have a negative impact on the entire workforce.

Are these issues affecting your workplace? Take a moment to look at trends in workplace conflict. Are you seeing more complaints, grievances and issues arising? Are these numbers going down, in a positive direction? Analysis of these figures may showcase some glaring issues (or progress) in company culture, depending on what you find.

Given the various conflict over many issues in recent months and years, coupled with the onset of increased stress and burnout for many employees across Ireland, keeping a keen eye on workplace conflict and taking steps to prevent it, will be a very important consideration that leaders and HR teams mustn’t forget.

If this is apparent in your organisation, get some guidance here!

Where can I go for help?

To find out more about this topic, or to talk to one of our consultants in confidence call us on 056 770 1060 or email

For further guidance why not register for our next free HR Room Webinar – Company Culture In A Hybrid World, to get live interactive guidance from the experts. Save your spot here.

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