GDPR – are you ready?

It’s been a while since I found time to write. Things are crazy busy. Both in and out of work but today felt a great day to take the time to focus on a topic that is dominating much of my time right now. Get ready for it. It’s another sexy subject. GDPR.

I heard the groans from here. I seriously know how dull this topic sounds and to be really honest, it doesn’t just sound it. It is! There’s not much sexy about data protection regulations but believe me you don’t want to ignore this one. Now I say that like that is new news and I know to many many people reading this you will be thinking goodness me tell me something I don’t already know. But…..I have spoken to so many people recently that have not been aware of this or have thought it doesn’t apply to them so I did want to write a short piece.

News flash. GDPR affects anyone holding data on EU citizens and data is anything that is identifiable back to an individual and those individuals have the right to know what you are collecting about them and how you intend to use it. So…..you may not only have data about your customers to consider but if you employ people you absolutely have their data to consider. This extends to applicants, volunteers and ex employees too. My focus is on the data you hold about the latter group.

Regardless of how much you know though GDPR comes in to force on the 25 May 2018. Im not going to witter on at length about this but I did want to hopefully spark curiosity with those that currently know very little but may now want to know more.

Did you know that you can no longer rely on the data protection paragraph in your employment contracts for the consent to hold your employees data? The reason being, consent must be unambiguous and freely given. Unambiguous means an employee should be crystal clear about each piece of data that you hold about them. But you don’t need to panic about that as a few actions can rectify this no problem. Those few actions could take you longer the more employees you have and the best place to start is with a data audit.

You basically must have a valid lawful reason for processing personal data.

  1. Consent
  2. Legitimate interests of the data controller
  3. Necessity for the performance of a contract
  4. Compliance with a legal obligation
  5. In order to protect the vital interests of the data subject
  6. Necessity for the performance of a task

You should also have a privacy notice for applicants and employees and your data protection policy should be updated to reflect the GDPR changes. Your existing policies may need updating and your retention schedules could need to change or if you don’t have retention schedules then now is the time to put them in place.

There are numerous other things to put in place including being aware of how to report any breaches, dealing with subject access requests and you may want to consider how you will train your team on the new legislation.

I appreciate you’re busy, you’re trying to run your business. I’m here to help should you need it and I hope the blog helps you to take positive action today. Don’t let the dull sounding complex legislation scare you in to doing nothing!

Focus on where you want to go. Not on fear. Anthony Robbins

Love Laura x

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People not process!

I’m writing this from the 06:44 to Lincoln. I know. The glam life that I lead! Anyway, regardless of when I post this blog I’m going to start by saying good morning! You’re the first people I’ve spoken to today! You don’t see many chatty people on a train platform so early so this virtual hey is as good as it gets right now!

I wanted to write about disciplinary and grievance procedures today. Oh, please don’t let that put you off. I’m not going to get heavy, that’s not my style as you know but I would like to share a few insights with you all. Things that have been going through my head.

When I describe my business and my “why” I talk about how people being treated as individuals and not seeing them as a cog in a process is important to me. So what do I mean and why do I care? Let me start with why I care. I care because at the end of the day we are all people who have feelings and values and lives outside of work and we all have basic needs. No two people are exactly the same so why should we treat them that way?! It simply doesn’t work. I care because regardless of the role you play in an organisation you play that role because one would assume there is a need for it. So without you the business would suffer in some way. If you’re playing your part then you should be listened to and heard and treated like you matter. Everybody deserves those basic points in my opinion. I know speaking from experience that if you try to follow policy or procedure rigidly regardless of taking into account personal circumstances it just doesn’t work and it doesn’t work for many reasons. People feel like they don’t matter, become disengaged, less likely to contribute fully and you can find yourself in hot water as you made a decision that doesn’t actually make sense.

Let’s move on to disciplinary and grievance procedures as the example. So many smaller organisations simply don’t have these in place and that really is a risk to your business. If you employ people then some basics around expectation setting and something clear to follow should you need it is important. It’s often very time consuming, messy and complicated if the ground rules have not been set before you need them. But let’s say you do have them. Fantastic. Try now not to see them as a set of rules to chastise people, to beat them over the head with or to follow when you see fit. That’s all equally unhelpful. Try to see them as part of your culture, as helping set expectations, clarity and transparency for all. Of course they’re there to help you should things go wrong but they also help employees feel supported and clear of what is expected and what will happen if those expectations are not met or it gives people a channel to follow should they need to raise something formally with you. They help set the culture of a well run business that cares about its people or at the very least that acknowledges it has people working in it!

I’ve had so many conversations with business owners and line managers over the years about how to apply a D&G policy or process to specific situations. The words I use and have done for years are, pragmatism, fair and reasonable. Take your policy in one hand, your individual in the other and ask yourself if you are making pragmatic decisions and then most importantly of all are you being fair and are you being reasonable. Listen to the individual, listen to the circumstances and apply your policy accordingly.

That’s not about bending the rules or treating people differently it’s about using what you have in place but doing it in a way that’s sensible.

So my final point in this blog is to encourage any business owners who don’t have a D&G policy in place or that maybe want to revamp what they do have to contact me to have a chat about how I can help you change that and also to encourage those of you that do to constantly challenge yourself….you’re dealing with humans, treat them as such. Keep in your mind the 3 little words. Pragmatism. Fair. Reasonable. They will serve you well.

You are what you do. Not what you say you’ll do.

Love Laura x

Here’s to a Sparkly filled 2018

I have had a little blog writing break over the festive period, but I feel like today is a great day to get some things down in writing.  I am sure that like me, you have all read a million social media posts of 2017 reviews, stories of personal highs and lows over the last year with optimism and hope for the start of a new year.  I know I have read a lot, and I am continuing to read them all as they pop up.  Repetitive posts on social media often bore me but reading this kind has really inspired me, I have loved seeing how people summarise their life for the last year. I have resisted the urge to join in though as I decided I would wrap my thoughts up in one place and the blog seemed right.

From the beginning of writing this blog I have been open: mixed business and personal information freely and I intend to continue with that.  A big part of me and how I work is hinged on me simply being me, I can not excel when I am trying to be something I am not. Learning this about myself through my career has been a game changer.  People work for people and people buy people……two phrases that are just so true. Some of my blog posts will be very much HR specific and relevant to Sparkle HR and the business and others will be about being a business owner, some will just be me wittering on about both and how I feel in general.  I suppose today’s blog is the latter.

If I can start by saying that 2017 has hands down been the most life changing year that I have ever had.  It has had me sobbing, anxious and stressed right through to feeling elated, motivated, fulfilled and inspired.  I have spoken of a rollercoaster and it really has been just that!  This Christmas though is the first one in 20 years where I haven’t had to work – I actually had time off, I enjoyed Christmas and I didn’t get stressed about anything, putting the tree up was enjoyable (not sure taking it down will be!), writing cards was actually lovely and I even had time to wrap presents before Christmas Eve.  Just reflecting on not HAVING to work is a major thing for me, I get to make decisions that work for me these days.  So whilst I did give myself a lovely amount of days off I also did CHOOSE to work when it suited me, it was a delish place to be and I am looking forward to more of this throughout 2018.  During the time I did work I reviewed Sparkle HR in 2017 and set myself goals and plans for 2018.

As I said at the start of this blog and have said many times in previous blogs, a lot has happened in 2017, I found out my role was being made redundant and I made the decision to set up my own business. It wasn’t until I sat down last week and listed what I had achieved during this time that I appreciated just what a mountain it has been to climb and I actually I now feel super proud of myself for:

  1. Having the balls to go for it
  2. Keeping going even on the days I doubted my decision and especially when things were feeling tough
  3. Learning so much new stuff!  New stuff about being a business owner and for opening my mind to thinking very differently about my life and the choices I am making

As I reviewed the year I realised there were things that I haven’t achieved that I had set out to do but all of them had a good reason, some I have scrapped and some I have carried over to my 2018 plan.  Somebody said to me that having your own business requires you to be 100% adaptable and flexible to changing demands and that is very true.  Some things I thought were super urgent actually turned out not to be at all and other stuff I realised was more important than I once thought.    By the end of 2017 I had secured my first few clients which I can not even begin to convey enough how utterly over the moon I am about this, I have also had a great couple of months working as an associate with Smart Resourcing Solutions which I utterly love, and am looking forward to more of in 2018.  I have been really busy and my work has been varied – just wonderful really!

On top of all of that I met a fabulous man this year who has blown me away with his honesty, love, support and belief in me and my dreams.  He is like my very own personal motivator and also tells me to get a grip on the days when I am a ball of worry and negativity!

I would hate anyone to read this and feel like I am being smug in any way, I am happy to admit I am still naturally anxious about the future because let’s be honest it is a huge thing being your own boss…you need to be responsible and stuff!  It takes a lot of dedication, self belief and guts to keep going with the dream when things don’t go entirely right.  The knocks can be hard to bounce back from but I intend to make 2018 as awesome as 2017 turned out to be.  This all comes with a healthy amount of realism and I know this path will not be straight forward or smooth but it is starting off as well as I could have dreamed it to and so I am going to love this one day at a time.  I have to keep reminding myself that it is ok to feel happy and proud of the current picture I have built, it’s ok to feel positive and excited about the future and it’s ok to celebrate your own success along the way, after all what’s the point of dancing if you don’t enjoy the dance!

Whatever your 2017 was like and however you would like your 2018 to be I hope that you are simply happy.  Thank you to all of you that have supported me so far, you have been a great bunch of cheerleaders and I hope you continue to be a part of this during 2018.

Success is not an accident, it’s something we have to create on purpose – Carrie Green

Love Laura x

Be the reason for your own success

The last 3 weeks have been brilliant. Tiring, stressful, hard work but brilliant. Nobody works you harder than yourself when you’re your own boss!

At the start of the year I knew what I wanted things to be like when I started Sparkle but back at the beginning I wasn’t sure if that was possible, if it was a dream that others had but that I couldn’t. Well, it seems it is possible. It’s out there for the taking.

I’ve been really clear in my mind about getting a good balance back in my life, doing things I love and working with clients that match my own values. All year I have been working to try and ensure that when I was ready to launch the business and start trading I could do so confidently with the structure already in place.

I’ve done lots to get to that place, boring admin type things, researching, planning, chatting to people more expert than I, doing things I find hard or scary, reading, networking, focussing on my own personal and professional development and stressing. Lots of stressing and worrying! However, I recently also started to meditate, I’m trying to master yoga (badly!), practice visualising my success and reading positive affirmations. I’m the first to say I was sceptical of some of the more recent things as I wasn’t sure if I could do them or if I even believed in them. Like anything though, I’ve committed to them 100% and my goodness I’ve enjoyed doing them. I’m still enjoying doing them.

So why has the last 3 weeks been so positive?

  • I’ve had a wonderful mix of catching up with friends, lovely lunches, coffee dates and I’ve not felt guilty for it once.
  • I have had time to find a routine that works for me, trying new things and focussing on my well being.
  • I have had a hugely rewarding week supporting graduate assessment simulations with Smart Resourcing Solutions.
  • I have started working with my first few coaching clients, really loving this.
  • I have secured a new client with an amazing charity who are outsourcing their HR. An organisation I believe in and an opportunity that makes me feel all kinds of excitement and passion. If I could have written my story at the start of the year. This would have been it.

It isn’t luck that is making this stuff happen, I can see that the hard work is paying off and for the first time in 11 months I feel truly content with the direction I’m going and can see that life outside your comfort zone can be pretty amazing. I’m still happy to say, it feels uncomfortable at times but nothing can replace the feeling of leaping the first few hurdles and hitting the floor with both feet firmly running.

I’m prepared for future challenges and I’m more motivated than ever before to believe in my business and my current choices in life.

To anybody thinking of making a similar leap of faith, you can do it! If you would like to have coaching with me, I’m currently offering 2 free 45 minute sessions. I would love to hear from you.

You did not wake up today to be mediocre

Love Laura x

How to avoid an employment tribunal

I went to a mock employment tribunal today at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors. It was a fantastic learning experience and a great refresh on lots of things.  Something that I think would be useful for so many line managers. 

It was actually really timely given the fact that in July this year tribunal fees were abolished. Some reports already show that claims in the last 2 months have doubled, other reports say claims are five times higher! Wow, those are alarming but not really surprising figures.

It got me thinking actually, there’s so much to know and do that can mitigate being in that situation. Inevitably though there will be occasions when a tribunal has not been able to be avoided. If that is the case everything you have done or not done that has lead to that point will be scrutinised. Put yourself in a strong position by following these pointers. 

Ensure you have the basics in place

  • Are your contracts fit for purpose? Do you have clear policies and procedures? Is your handbook up to date?  Equally as important, do your employees know these exist?  Have you any record that they have seen/had a copy of your handbook?  Can you be sure your employees know what is expected of them? All of these things may help tighten your case should you need to rely on them and most of them can help reduce risk in the first place. 

Are your policies and procedures followed consistently? 

  • It is so important that your own policies and procedures are followed consistently in the organisation.
  • Do you have clear processes to follow and simple ways to record facts? If not, you may want to consider how you make this as simple as possible for the people using them. Usually your line managers. 
  • Ensure your line managers are trained to effectively carry out disciplinaries and grievances and it does no harm to run refresher sessions to ensure skills are kept up to date, well used and relevant. 

Communicating 

  • Those confidential emails, those “off the record” conversations. Guess what? They are all disclosable. Don’t fall in to the trap of writing or saying things you don’t think will be used later. It could be and it can be really unhelpful at times.

Be the employer you say you are

  • It sounds simple but do the right thing, even when nobody is watching!  Be the kind of employer you say you are/want to be. If you treat people in a way that is fair and reasonable you are heading in the right direction. 

If you have any issues the most important thing I can advise is to deal with these swiftly and professionally. This can be daunting and we understand this can be complex. If you require any advice we will be willing to advise and support you with any of the points mentioned. 

You can call me on 07894435423 or email Lauramoughton@sparklehr.co.uk

It is always the right time to do the right thing – Martin Luther King JR

Love Laura x

A week of absolute highs and emotional lows!

I started the day with an exciting parcel…..I got out of bed feeing a little bit flat but then this super thoughtful gift and card from my coach came through.  I couldn’t have got to the point I am today without her, it was the best decision I made at the start of this year.  Thanks Lisa.  So, mood suitablly lifted and back on track.

IMG_4702

I have wanged on about why I am setting up Sparkle HR all year.  The main catalyst was finding out I was being made redundant.  At that point I decided that I was going to take control, set up my business and focus on making a difference in other organisations.  I didn’t want to work for another employer, I dreamed of being self employed and working with lots of companies that excite me and that feel the right fit for me.  After all I have had the perfect fit for 17 years so I definitely don’t want that to end.  Making the decision at the start of the year was liberating and scary as hell.  What I would say right now is that I have had one hell of a year.  I have loved learning so much about being a business owner, the highs the lows the expense!  The endless late nights and inability to switch off as you just can’t stop thinking as you feel so fired up.

So here we are, that day has arrived.  I am officially self employed and my next chapter starts here.   I am writing my blog today from Costa, listening to annoyingly early festive music and reflecting on what has been quite frankly a week I will never forget and for the all the right reasons.

On Monday I worked with Smart resourcing solutions at the Etihad stadium.  I was assessing MMU fashion students as part of a large scale assessment simulation.  What am awesome day that was, it was run like clockwork by Sophie and the Smart resourcing team and the students were buzzing.  I love supporting people to be the best that they can be and working with enthusiastic, engaged, driven students was the ideal day.  It started at 4:15am when I got out of bed and ended when I arrived home at 7:30pm.  I evaluated the day as inspirational, fulfilling and eye opening.  These fashion students have some talent and my goodness I need style tips – what a capable, well dressed bunch they are!

Tuesday was my final day in a JL branch – there is not much to say that I have not already said about this.  It was the biggest emotional wrench I have felt – It hasn’t just been a job to me, it has been my life, a huge part of who I am.  Safe to say there were lots of tears!  Tuesday evening though I met with Emma from In the works PR as the are currently working on my website – this was the positive end to the day that I needed!  So excited to see the finished version!

Wednesday I went to a workshop that was being run by Business Sheffield – Marketing fundamentals.  I then drove to maidenhead to meet my fabulous retail business partner team for our farewell dinner and to hand in my JL kit.  Another emotional evening but so special to celebrate what a team we have been and to say the final goodbyes.

The next day I was up at 5:30am and on the road to Manchester from Leighton Buzzard.  I was working wth Smart resourcing solutions again but this time on a different project.  I was delivering coaching to candidates to ensure they are fully prepared for their upcoming assessments.  The client is an award winning graduate employer and It is so good to be part of such an important cog in both theirs and the candidates journey.  I left this day feeling tired (!) but above all else I felt inspired, motivated and I had a huge sense of self worth and satisfaction knowing it was a great use of a day.

That brings me to today, I was supposed to be switching off and resting – however I had this overwhelming positive feeling following my lovely parcel this morning and so here I am – still sat in Costa 3 hours later!

As hard as leaving employment that I have loved has been, as many tears as I have cried, I am now just simply filled with determination, positivity and excitement for the months and years ahead.

Thank you to all of my friends and family for your unwavering support this far and to Jay….you are my rock!

“Every end is a new beginning”

Love Laura x

Things I wish I had known before facing redundancy 

In one week’s time I leave my employment due to my role being made redundant.  I decided that the roles that were left were not right for me (location issues) and subsequently I am leaving a fantastic 17 year career with a great employer.  I decided now would be the right time to share my top tips based on what I’ve experienced and learnt throughout the process.   

It really isn’t you. It’s them. 

Its that age old splitting up scenario. The boy/girl decides to dump you and you’re told it’s not you, it’s them. None of us ever believe that. However, in the case of redundancy you must believe that. It’s not you being made redundant. It’s the role. The decision wasn’t made to make you personally redundant, you happen to be in that position and subsequently are at risk but don’t let that knock your confidence. You were great, you still are great and you will continue to be great elsewhere. You have a lot to give any employer, you have been successful at least once and you will be again.

Don’t panic

You don’t need to panic. It’s the most natural thing to do but try not to. Be clear what you are good at, similarly be clear where you might like to develop. Take action to fill any gaps but don’t panic. You will find another job, a new career, whatever it is you want to do. Taking advice from this blog should help you to reduce the panic. Take control. You don’t need to make snap decisions. 

Speak out/ask questions

When you’re going through this period of uncertainty speak out and ask questions. Your employer has legal responsibilities to consult with you correctly and a good employer will go above and beyond this. Regardless of who you work for, if you’re not happy, uncomfortable or unsure about anything don’t let it fester. Get it out in the open. This will allow you to move on quicker.  Don’t spend valuable time being bitter or worrying. Take action and control. This is your life, you’re responsible for it. 

Get a coach 

Invest in yourself. Consider working with a coach. At a period of change and uncertainty a coach can help you find clarity, set goals, support you in being accountable for your actions, be a fabulous listening ear and encourage you in finding the positive momentum to keep moving forward each day.  Don’t make excuses about time and money, it’s an investment in yourself….can you really put a price on that? 

Take time to think about what you want

Just because you currently do one thing it doesn’t mean that’s it for life. Now is the time to think, “hang on, what do I want to do. What would I love to do?  How do I turn that in to a reality?”  It’s so easy to become conditioned into thinking how your employer does so when you get the opportunity to think differently make sure you give yourself time to do so. Don’t let fear stifle you either. Dream big, think creatively, take calculated risks and make your heart happy!  If you want to stay on the same path of course that’s equally ok but just give yourself time to think.  Have an open mind about the possibilities. They become endless if you can do this. 

Be positive 

Believe me, I know at times that this is easier said than done. It’s ok to have a shit moment. A moment of fear and negativity. Don’t allow it to be more than that though, a moment. Whatever it takes to find your positive place again make sure you do. For me, things that have worked have been my coach, motivational books, surrounding myself with positive people, writing my blog, motivational quotes and taking control in any way I can. Yours may be different, that’s ok. Try different things and see what works for you. 

Upskill yourself

You can do this in many ways.  Read books, articles, blogs, networking, social media, webinars, conferences, qualifications. The list really is endless. Make now the time for you and your continued development. Even if you’ve been good at this in the past, now is the time to take it to that next level. It’s good for your self confidence and motivation as much as it is in bagging that dream job. 

Network

Different people have different views on this. I look at it very simply, expanding your contacts is no bad thing. Especially at a time when contacts most likely will bring you to that next opportunity. Pick up with connections you already have, make new ones. You can do this via social media or in person but for me a mixture of both has been good. As for formal networking events, again it’s a personal thing. Some have worked really well for me, others not so much but until you give it a try you will never know.  Don’t approach a contact or potential contact with the sole purpose of wanting something from them. Enjoy the chat, understand what they do and offer your help where you can. It’s not all about you 😉

Value yourself 

You are good enough.  Go out there and sell yourself. It’s not a crime! 

Good luck for the future

Just because the past didn’t turn out how you wanted it to it doesn’t mean the future can’t be better than you ever imagined. 

Love Laura x