The future of the workplace: death of the job description

We are in a fast moving world in which major changes to the workplace over the next few years are envisaged.  In a series of articles, we will be looking at these key changes and what they might mean to us in HR.  So far we have covered, resourcing and then recruitment, now we are looking at the ‘death of the job description’.

What are the predicted changes?

  • It is anticipated that job descriptions as we know them will be a thing of the past, as employees strive for independence in their working lives & a degree of diversification in their daily jobs/tasks;
  • There will be much more autonomy in roles;
  • An individual’s role will relate to their skills & expertise;
  • The ‘what’ needs to be achieved comes from Key Performance Areas (KPAs) and Key responsibility Areas (KRAs);
  • An element of ‘person specification’ will be required as the ‘how’ the job is done remains critical. This element will continue to be reflective of the company’s values & behaviours as well as the expectations of the individuals in the organisation;
  • The process will be to match employee strengths to company needs & base the role on what the individuals do best;
  • Titles can then be more descriptive such as Chief Happiness Officer, Head of Making Things Happen, Chief Opportunity Finder, Chief Experience Officer, Chief Hustler etc.

What does this mean for HR?

  • No longer will creativity be stifled, duties will be less limiting and we will be better placed to use all an employees’ skills, not just those covered by a job description;
  • In the early stages, HR will need to help the company to see beyond the immediate ‘role’ to see how the individuals skills & experience can benefit the wider organisation, including their demonstration of the company’s values & behaviours;
  • Intuitive electronic systems capturing the entire range of the individuals skills & experience will help the agility of the workforce in responding quickly to emerging business needs;
  • HR will need to support managers to develop the deliverables (the ‘Key Result Areas’) as the individual’s performance will be evaluated against these, as well as the ‘how’ they do the job. So, HR will need to work with managers to establish how performance is measured;
  • HR will need to encourage a more flexible approach to organisational responsibilities as people work across ‘boundaries’ and ‘boundaries/functions’ no longer exist. There will be an increase in project working & matrix management;
  • The knock on effects on performance evaluation, benefits tailoring etc. will need to be considered;
  • HR will use real time data to demonstrate how removing limits keeps employees and management happy & productive.


Food for thought! In the next blog, we will look at how predicted changes will impact on our approach to leadership.


The future of the workplace part 2 – ‘Recruitment’

We are in a fast moving world in which major changes to the workplace over the next few years are envisaged.  In a series of blogs, we will be looking at these key changes and what they might mean to us in HR.  We started with ‘resourcing’ and now we look at recruitment.

What are the predicted changes in recruitment?

  • As we identified in the previous blog, there will be less recruitment of permanent employees as companies use a wider range of resourcing approaches (using partnership talent, borrowed talent and freelance talent);
  • This means of course that recruiting these fewer and valuable permanent employees will become more specialised and customised;
  • Recruitment will involve ensuring the corporate and employer brands also appeal to and attract business partners (e.g., outsourcers, contractors, and freelancers) and those with ideas and insights needed for specific projects;
  • Adverts will highlight the flexibility of hours & work location (9-5 in the office is no longer the ‘norm’);
  • There will also be a further increase in automation and unconscious bias can be minimised / eliminated in the selection process
  • Recruitment will be seen even more as a vital aspect of creating the employee experience, these early touch points are crucial;
  • There will be more focus on developing your own (in house) talent

What does this mean for HR?

  • HR won’t just be recruiting permanent employees but will need to access these wider talent networks;
  • Recruitment of the fewer permanent employees will need to be customised, specialised and focused on behaviour to secure the flexibility required of this new ‘in house’ workforce;
  • We will see much more automation in the recruitment process particularly in early stages including more on-line assessments and testing before the candidates ever have any direct contact with the company, many of these focusing on behaviour. The assessment process should reflect the behaviours and values of the business. The other benefit of this is the reduction in opportunity for unconscious bias;
  • HR & Marketing will be working together to attract the candidates who are already focusing on the degree of diversity, reputation, commitment to CSR and values before deciding who to apply to;
  • HR will need to manage the cultural change and support management in adopting a flexible approach to hours and work, eradicating a culture of presenteeism
  • As there will be more focus in developing your own talent, performance evaluation methods, training and development will need to be honed;
  • Keep monitoring the candidate/employee experience and consistently improve the process with input from the candidates;
  • Onboarding starts immediately and lasts longer. Adopting innovative and creative approaching to onboarding, starting the moment an employee verbally accepts.  You have spent so much time and effort to secure the right person, you don’t want to lose them now and you want the best possible employee experience.  As there will be fewer permanent employees to recruit, you can spend time doing it properly! #timewellspent

Interesting times! In the next blog we will look at the death of the job description and how this frees up our people to use all of their skills.

Putting sexual harassment at the top of the agenda

The Women & Equality commission have produced their report on Sexual Harassment in the workplace.

There are some key conclusions and recommendations they have made;

  • Employers should provide a workplace where employees have safety and dignity and that this should equal their other employer responsibilities around money laundering or protecting personal data.
  • The public sector should lead the way on this and provide good practice examples for other employers. Such as carrying out sexual harassment risk assessments and take steps to mitigate.
  • Government and ACAS should provide a statutory code with guidance on the following;
    • Behaviours which might constitute Sexual Harassment.
    • What are the employers responsibilities in protecting employees.
    • What actions should an employee take.
    • How employers should help challenge inappropriate behaviours.
  • This code would be considered by a tribunal when assessing if there has been a breach.
  • That employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect employees from third party harassment.
  • Tribunal can award punitive damages, so the employer would need to pay legal costs if they lose a case where sexual harassment was alleged.
  • Extend the time limit to raise a claim which alleges sexual harassment to six months.

Considering the above it is a good time to think about the following;

  • Look again at your Bullying & Harassment polices & procedures.
  • Do your employees know how to raise concerns around harassment?
  • Do you promote a culture in which concerns can be raised?
  • Have all your staff received Equality & Diversity training?

If you have any questions or concerns on this then please get in touch with the Team at HRML who will be happy to provide you with further advice and guidance.


The future of the workplace

We are in a fast moving world in which major changes to the workplace over the next few years are envisaged.  In a series of blogs, we will be looking at these key changes and what they might mean to us in HR.  We start with resourcing.

What are the predicted changes?

  • There may be fewer permanent roles in the future, in fact by 2020 it is envisaged that half the people that an organisation relies on, won’t be employed by them;
  • Contractors/freelancers will increasingly be used for specific projects to bring in particular and specific expertise. These are often known as portfolio workers and are part of the open talent economy;
  • According to Deloitte, increasingly companies are expanding their talent networks to include “partnership talent” (employees who are part of joint ventures), “borrowed talent” (employees who are part of contractors or outsourcing relationships), “freelance talent” (independent, individual contractors), and “open source talent” (people who don’t work for the organisation at all, but are part of the value chain and services);
  • There will be a further increase in flexibility (both geographically & hours of work) of the workforce enabling more people to work flexibility and have a work life balance;
  • With fewer in house employees, they will be the people who are able to take on multiple roles and are of significant value to the organisation;
  • Employers are looking for long term relationships once again with their employees.

What does this mean for HR?

  • HR need to tap into and then manage these talent networks as resourcing experts not just recruiters;
  • With fewer employees, employers need to be treating them in a way that indicates they cannot do without them. So further investing in development and career planning, reward/recognition/benefits, performance evaluation and feedback systems will be crucial.
  • Leaders that can manage these talent ecosystems need to be developed;
  • Employees need to be set free from restrictive job descriptions, so they are able to use all their skills as well as be able to take on multiple roles;
  • We will need adaptable HR systems which can deal with the increased the flexibility of the workforce including various work patterns, compressed hours, flexi hours recording;
  • HR will be managing complex contracts and resource arrangements;
  • Further increasing use of technology to enable more remote working and flexibility around working hours and measuring outputs not inputs, in other words measure productivity not length of time in the office.

It is therefore an incredibly exciting time to be in HR! In the next blog we will look at how predicted changes will impact on our approach to recruitment.

Too hot to work?

As temperatures are set to soar this week, what does the law say about workplace temperatures and what should employers be doing to make things more comfortable for their employees?

What are the rules?

Interestingly there is no legal minimum or maximum working temperature.  This is because some workplaces operate at extreme temperatures. However, guidance suggests a minimum of 16ºC or 13ºC if the work involves ‘rigorous physical effort’.  These temperatures are not absolute legal requirements – the employer has a duty to determine what “reasonable comfort will be” in the particular circumstances.

What should Employers do?

The Health and Safety Executive says employers must take into account six basic factors when deciding whether to keep people in the workplace.  These are; air temperature, radiant temperatures, air velocity, humidity, the clothing employees are expected to wear, and their expected work rate.

Under the Health & Safety regulations, the temperature at work is one of the factors employers have to take into account and may be obliged to carry out a risk assessment and then rectify the situation.

Ultimately, the temperature at work should be “reasonable” when factoring in the type of workplace.

So our job as employers is to keep an eye on the temperatures and do what is reasonable –  relax dress codes, provide fans, have cold water available and tweak working practices where practical.  Overall be sensible and sensitive.

Might things change in the future?

The TUC has called for a maximum workplace temperature of 30C for non-manual work, and 27C for manual work, meaning employees would be automatically sent home if the workplace temperature exceeded it.

The TUC also wants to see an obligation on employers to start taking measures to cool a workplace when it reaches 24C. And while many employers will let staff dress more casually in the summer heat, the TUC wants this written into law.

Self employed is the new employer’s liability

Do you use self-employed contractors in your organisation?

Are you sure that your working relationship is that of a supplier and client?

This is particularly important in light of the Supreme Court ruling on the Pimlico Plumbers case that Mr Smith, a self-employed plumber was in fact a ‘worker’ and therefore entitled to certain legal rights including the right to a minimum wage, holiday pay and protection from discrimination.

It’s therefore a good time to look again at self-employed individuals in your business, what are they doing for you and how is it being done?   Here are some questions you should be asking yourself;

  • Are they providing their services to other clients and free to do so?
  • Do they use their own tools/equipment?
  • Are they free to substitute – send someone else to carry the service/work for you?
  • Are they free to carry out the work how they choose to, not having to follow working practices or procedures stipulated by you?
  • Do they have a written agreement detailing the terms under which they will provide the services to you?
  • Are they excluded from team meetings, company events etc?
  • Do you only give them work as and when you want to?
  • Do they decide when they will work and can turn down work when offered?
  • Do they invoice you for the time/service they provide to you?

If you answer ‘no’ to any of these questions than a Tribunal may consider them a worker and award backdated holiday pay along with other workers entitlements such as minimum wage, sick pay or protection against unlawful discrimination, if they were asked to consider a case.

If you have any questions or concerns on this then please get in touch with the Team at HRML who will be happy to provide you with further advice and guidance.

The unmasking of ‘unconscious bias’

Starbucks closed their US stores recently to provide training for their staff in unconscious bias, following an incident in one of their stores.  What is it and how can recognising and dealing with unconscious bias help us in business and our everyday life?

What it is

Implicit or unconscious bias happens when our brains make incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without us realising. Our biases are influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences.

From an early age, we are taught, we read, hear and see things in the media and from others around us that include stereotypes.  The brain then uses this when making quick decisions, when we are not thinking.  This is not intentional and we are mostly unaware of this unconscious bias, but it happens.  It can often result in discriminatory behaviour, which though, unintentional, is still discrimination and unlawful and could land your business in an employment tribunal.

Where do you see it in business?

It has been proved that making snap judgements or decisions can influence the recruitment, promotion, recognition and development of others.   For example, people favour others who look like them, have a similar education, are from the same area or are the same ethnicity as them.

Sometimes a positive or negative trait is transferred onto a person, without any evidence or objective reason. Behaviour which reinforces the bias is noticed whilst behaviour which doesn’t, is ignored.

Studies have shown:

  • CVs with white sounding names sometimes receive a more positive response;
  • In scientific institutions male applicants were rated as significantly more competent and hireable than female applicants, were given a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring than females
  • In healthcare, racial bias influences medical decision making

Cost to Business

  • The wrong candidate being selected and the hire potentially not working out and the cost of rehiring
  • Overlooking skilled and competent people, demotivating individuals and potentially losing them to competitors
  • A discrimination claim (which is uncapped)
  • A less diverse workforce, that all share similar characteristics and views, but are not reflective of your client/customer base and able to relate to them

What can we do?

  • Raise awareness (interactive workshops) so individuals recognise how unconscious bias can influence their judgements and decision making and how to take steps to overcome it;
  • Make sure we make ‘conscious’ decisions which are controlled and well reasoned;
  • Develop concrete, objective indicators & outcomes for recruiting, promoting, recognising and developing our people;
  • Keep monitoring your processes for decision making and raising awareness on an ongoing basis.

And finally – recently, the low number of women on FTSE Boards has also been attributed to unconscious bias so it remains a very relevant and topical issue and one that businesses should address as a matter of urgency.