Robey Jenkins, HR Manager for Age UK Gloucestershire, shares his weekly blog with us:
Dear Father Christmas,
I have been a very good boy this year. I have complied with the Code of Conduct (that I wrote) and tried very hard to exemplify the Values of Age UK Gloucestershire (ditto, with some help from the Chief Exec). I have (mostly) kept up to date with my professional development record. I have written a blog every week (except when I was on holiday). I was even given an award for being a Good HR Manager (by the people for whom I write the blog, but I’m sure they meant it).
This is what I would like for Christmas.
- A computer-literate workforce. It is really hard improving communications with a workforce that thinks that email is the cutting-edge of technology and consider even a Windows phone to be an object of wonder and amazement. It isn’t helped by a rurally-based field team without broadband and patchy mobile reception. Nor by the way our operational teams have had to adapt to several new digital platforms to manage their work… Although we’re not a technology company… and most of our clients are struggling with new technology, too… Perhaps if I could encourage employees to improve their IT skills with the same resources our clients use? I could probably learn something about how to reach those without reliable computer access from our field workers… Forget that one.
- A new Staff Handbook. The current one is so dull and generic. It’s no wonder no one ever reads it. It doesn’t help that a poorly-drafted template for our contract of employment made the whole thing contractual. And of course, we have quite a few dyslexic employees, too… who would struggle even if we did have a new Staff Handbook… Even a new handbook is hardly going to be New York Times Bestseller material, let’s face it… Should I even still be trying to communicate through something as tedious as a written document…? Yes, yes, we’ll skip this one, too.
- A paperless office. That filing cabinet is really ugly. And people keep putting things in my in-tray. And I have meeting notes in three different notebooks. And I have to write up the minutes from the most recent Employee Forum. Except that paper is unhackable technology and doesn’t rely on our server not crashing. And in any case, my email inbox is more full of overdue tasks than my paper in-tray. And I’m still educating people about how to add a hyperlink to their emails… Possibly we’re not ready for a paperless office quite yet. Can we re-visit this one in 2017?
- A training budget. I really mean this one, Father Christmas. How can I make sure we have a consistent approach to learning when training is paid for out of individual team budgets? I’m sure I could deliver a fantastic learning environment with just £3,000. Well, maybe £5,000. It should probably by £15,000 to be certain. Out of our dwindling income. Mostly from donations… from people who expect it to be spent on caring for older people… You know, I could probably get managers to ring-fence portions of their existing budgets for training… and I could offer a fixed programme of training opportunities for them to buy into… I’m sure there are savings to be gained from e-learning with a bit of imagination… I suppose I don’t really need a training budget.
- Better managers. This should definitely be a priority. Perhaps we could just replace them all because some of them have been here for years and just cruise along on the basis of knowing who everyone is and understanding the various legacy systems and who’s who in the local government and health systems, and… that would be pretty trick to replace, wouldn’t it? But it’s not like they’re perfect, because they could really do with understanding things like recruitment and absence management and performance appraisal and… other things… that are probably my job to explain… I could probably explain it all better if I understood their jobs a bit better, too… No, you’re right. They’re a pretty decent bunch, really. No new managers, then.
- A new tie. I know I’m not doing very well with this list, Father Christmas. So I’ll try to finish on something uncontroversial. Can I have a new tie? Nothing silly. Responsibly-sourced knitted silk or British organic wool would be great. Hand-made in the UK, rather than in a Far Eastern sweat-shop… What’s that you say, Father Christmas? “Easier to find you a training budget”? Oh, well. I guess it’s the thought that counts.
Merry Christmas, everyone!