Secrets of a Brighter Workplace


Tips on how to understand, recruit and keep the best people for your business


A Christmas fairytale

Of HR challenges and a fairy godmother

A Christmas fairytale video

Let me tell you a story. A story about Cindy, the hard-pressed yet ambitious HR manager of a large retail corporation. She dreams of making a positive impact on the business by helping it recruit the best people and by engaging those people to do the best possible work.

But every day there are numerous challenges and issues, big and small, that she has to tackle first. She is frustrated that these issues distract her from her main task, absorbing her time and leaving her little energy to focus on her own development.

But there is hope – in the form of a year’s worth of Work Brighter blogs – her very own twinkly fairy godmother.

So, are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin …

It’s early in the morning and Cindy is trying to get to work. Stuck in a traffic jam, she thinks through what she needs to get done today. She sighs. Her to-do list seems overwhelming. But then she remembers the tips she learnt from a Work Brighter piece about productivity, specifically how to prioritise her workload by assessing what’s important and what’s urgent. She resolves to do that the minute she gets into the office.

Coat hung up and coffee in hand, she’s finally at her desk. Almost immediately, the phone rings. It’s one of the store managers wanting to discuss his recent recruitment activity. He’s not happy with the quality of candidates coming through.

She spends a good half an hour unpicking the issue and offering advice. It looks like the job description needs updating and he needs to provide the recruitment agency with more information about exactly what he’s looking for. Using Work Brighter’s advice on both, she guides him through some simple ways to improve how the role in question is presented to potential candidates.

Now she’s late for a meeting. Muttering her apologies, she takes a seat in the conference room as the speaker begins to talk through the topic in hand – how some managers in the business are concerned about uneven levels of performance in their areas. Attendees offer their own insights and anecdotal evidence. Questions are asked. Voices are raised. But Cindy is calm. She has the science at her fingertips, thanks to Work Brighter. Having evaluated the effectiveness of the selection process based on the data, she knows that the improvements she’s made to how people are assessed will, in a few months’ time, result in an upswing in performance across the business. People congratulate her for being so on top of things.

There’s no time to celebrate her success though. Someone has rung in sick and there’s no one available to support Tom, a new manager doing his first job interview (with the help of the Work Brighter interview guide). She jumps into her car and heads over to the store. But there was no need to rush. The first interviewee hasn’t shown up, leaving Tom perplexed. It’s not unusual, says Cindy, channelling Tom Jones, grateful for a few extra minutes to prepare.

Three interviews later and she and Tom take a break. He’s puzzled by some of the bizarre things interviewees have come out with. Cindy regales him with a few of the interviewee faux pas examples from a Work Brighter blog that made her laugh. And she makes a mental note to mention to his line manager that Tom needs some additional support developing his interviewing skills. She’ll forward the PDP plan that Work Brighter provided.

Back at her desk later that afternoon, she grabs a sandwich and tries to catch up on her email. There’s one from a team manager asking her what she knows about strengths and how they might be used to improve team working and engagement. She fires off a quick response with the link to two Work Brighter blogs on using strengths to get the most out of your employees and using strengths to support engagement.

This gets Cindy thinking. With all this rushing about, she’s not even started on looking at improving employee engagement levels in the business. Attrition isn’t too bad at the moment but it’s an issue that can’t be overlooked. Only last week a really high-performing employee unexpectedly handed in their notice and Cindy feels sure (because of a Work Brighter piece on this very issue) that more could be done to prevent that happening in the future, ensuring valued team members aren’t lost to the competition.

As the day draws to a close, Cindy reflects on her own performance. Could she have handled that conversation with the store manager better? He didn’t seem entirely satisfied with her advice. Cindy knows she’s good at detail and collaboration but maybe she needs to be more assertive. Perhaps her influencing skills need work? Following Work Brighter’s advice on how to identify and address your development needs, she decides to keep a note of what she does in situations like that to see what might be improved.

Shattered, Cindy heads for home. It’s been quite a day. She knows she didn’t get done everything she wanted to do today but she also knows there’s no point being hard on herself. Sometimes, often, it just can’t be helped. At least, she thinks, as she settles in front of the TV with a glass of wine, by helping the business improves the way it recruits and retains its people – in whatever small way she can – she’s helping that business succeed. And that can only help her with her own goal – of becoming HRD in three years’ time – as featured on her Work Brighter-influenced evidence wall.

She smiles. 2016 is looking a whole lot brighter. A whole lot Work Brighter.

The End.

And the moral of the story? That with Work Brighter as your fairy godmother, you too can look forward to a productive and successful 2016. Happy New Year!

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