Author: Morven Borthwick

Top Tips for Effective Time Management at Work

Top Tips for Effective Time Management at Work

Sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Managing your time at work can be a real challenge and you are not alone. Yet, effective time management can help make your working day much more productive.

Below you will find some of the most common workplace time wasters and strategies for managing your time effectively.

1. Not Planning and Prioritising Workload
This affects all we do both professionally and personally. Those who accomplish the most in a day know exactly what they want to achieve. Unfortunately, too many of us think that goals and objectives are yearly things and not daily considerations.

Make a list of all projects and daily tasks then rank them in order of importance, taking into account deadlines. This will help you prioritise what you need to focus on and provide you with a list of daily goals to achieve. Then, for each task, set an estimated time of how long you think it should take to complete. Use the time estimate to keep you on track.

2. Ineffective delegation
Good delegation is considered a key skill in managers. The best managers have an ability to delegate work to staff and ensure it is done correctly. This is probably the best way of building your team’s morale and reducing your workload at the same time. The general rule is – if one of your staff can do it 80% as well as you can, then delegate it.

3. Changing between Activities
Time is often wasted in changing between activities. For this reason it is useful to group similar tasks together thus avoiding the start-up delay of each. You may want to initiate a routine, which deals with these on a fixed but regular basis.

4. Drop in visitors
The five deadliest words that rob your time are “Have you got a minute”. Everyone’s the culprit – your colleagues, your boss, and your peers. Knowing how to deal with interruptions is one of the best skills you can learn. It would be foolish to eliminate all non-work related activity but if it’s a choice between chatting to your colleague in the afternoon and meeting the next work deadline then there isn’t a choice!

INTERRUPTIONS CHECKLIST – If you have an unexpected visitor:
o Establish at the start why they have come to see you.
o Stand when they enter the room, so that they also remain standing.
o If it’s necessary for you to deal personally with them suggest a later meeting, at your convenience.
o Whenever possible, suggest a meeting in their office.
o Set time limits to your discussion.
o Avoid engaging in too much small talk.
o If you really can’t get them out of your office, leave the office yourself.

5. Meetings
Studies have shown that the average manager spends about 17 hours a week in meetings and about 6 hours planning for meetings beforehand, with untold hours in the follow up.

A formal meeting must be planned if it is to be effective and time-efficient. An agenda should be provided for all and circulated some 24-48 hours before the meeting begins. The agenda should set out the purpose, date, and start & finish times. Avoid ‘any other business’ as it invites time-wasters to witter on endlessly.

Where possible, it is important to timetable all informal meetings too. Compile a plan of points you want to cover or questions you wish to ask. Stick closely to the plan and return to it if or when anyone deviates from it. If necessary, refer regularly to passing time i.e., “we must be moving on”.

Contact Us
At Gravitate HR, we can train your employees on various strategies to help with their time management skills. Please contact a member of the team at Gravitate HR on 0131 225 7458 if you would like any further information.

Holiday Pay Ruling


The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held, in the conjoined case of Bear Scotland v Fulton, that any normal non-guaranteed overtime should be taken into account when assessing holiday pay.

Some employers only pay workers their basic pay when they are on annual leave and do not take into account compulsory or guaranteed overtime. For people who normally work overtime, this means that their earnings fall when they take annual leave.

Following this ruling, employers will have to include normal overtime when working out how much holiday pay workers are entitled to.

However, this will only apply to 4 week’s annual leave and not the UK statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks’. This is because under the Working Time Directive, workers in EU countries are entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks’ annual leave. Although UK domestic law extends this to 5.6 weeks’, this ruling applies only to the EU minimum of 4 weeks’ annual leave.

The EAT also ruled that workers may be able to make limited backdated claims. However, claims for arrears of holiday pay will be out of time if there has been a break of more than three months between successive underpayments.

Although this ruling has been handed down by the EAT today, the case may be referred to the Court of Appeal, meaning that a final decision may be several years away.

SMEs recognise the importance of investing in training for staff

SMEs recognise the importance of investing in training for staff

The Personal Development in the Workplace Study 2014 shows that small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are showing more interest in training their staff.

The study, which polled 1,000 employees from various SMEs, discovered that 58% of respondents agreed that their employer took their personal development seriously. This figure has improved by 6% from the previous year.

The study also shows that more staff are finding that their employers are interested in discussing their personal development with 35% of respondents reporting that they had discussed their personal development with their employers within the last six months.

Personal Development Plan

A personal development plan (PDP) is a programme of learning, unique to the individual employee, designed to ensure that staff have the necessary skills, knowledge and behaviours appropriate to a current or future job role.

This year, the study found that 58% of respondents said they didn’t have a current PDP. This is a small improvement on the previous year where 66% of respondents reported not having one. The researchers of the study noted that this “shows how employers are increasingly dedicating more time and resource to providing staff with structured personal development plans which will no doubt help to improve their engagement and motivation”.

A PDP should comprise of a broad variety and balanced mix of learning activities for the individual to apply in order to improve personal effectiveness. Personal development planning and review should be part of a continual process of appraisal, planning, supporting and evaluating to help staff develop their capabilities and potential to fulfil their job role and purpose. It is an approach to increase the effectiveness of your organisation’s performance through ongoing, constructive dialogue to ensure that everyone:

  • knows what is expected of them;
  • gets feedback on performance; and
  • is able to identify and satisfy their development needs and have opportunities to utilise their learning.

Organisations which are successful in managing performance have higher levels of motivation in their workforce and perform better. Successfully implementing performance reviews and PDP’s depends on good communication and effective partnership working between staff and management. In the longer term, effective performance review and objective setting improves communication and relationships in an organisation.

Contact Us

At Gravitate HR, we can assist with your employees’ personal development and can provide you with the tools you need to enable you to carry out your own training needs analysis. Please contact a member of the team at Gravitate HR on 0131 225 7458 if you would like any further information.

Dismissing an employee for poor performance

Performance Management

Performance management is crucial to ensuring positive performance and maintaining staff morale. When poor performance is not well managed it can be de-motivating for productive members of the workforce. Furthermore, in certain circumstances incompetence can place the employee and others at risk of injury and breach of health and safety regulations.

Causes of Poor Performance

In the event that problems are being experienced with an employee’s performance, it will be very important for the manager to try to identify the root cause of the problem and deal with it accordingly.
It is a natural human reaction for a manager to blame an employee when mistakes are made or where work is not completed satisfactorily. Managers should, however, refrain from assuming automatically that such performance problems are due to the employee’s lack of effort or carelessness as there are many other possible causes of poor performance.

These include:

• inadequate or insufficient training;
• poor systems of work, out-of-date policies or inadequate procedures that do not permit efficient or effective work;
• tools and equipment that do not work properly or frequently break down;
• poor quality or inadequate supervision and/or support;
• lack of understanding on the employee’s part about his or her job duties, priorities or goals, which may arise because no one has properly explained these issues or given the employee feedback;
• unclear instructions;
• work overload, causing stress and fatigue;
• unrealistic targets or deadlines that are virtually impossible for the employee to achieve;
• poor working relationships causing the employee worry, upset or stress;
• bullying or harassment;
• physical or mental ill health, for example where the employee’s state of health, or medication taken to deal with it, is causing tiredness; and
• personal problems that would inevitably affect the employee’s concentration.

Distinction between capability and conduct

A lack of capability exists where, no matter how hard an employee tries, he or she is simply unable to perform the job to the standard required by the employer.

If an employee fails to come up to the required standard as a result of his or her own carelessness, negligence or idleness, this will not constitute incapability, but could be regarded as misconduct.

It can sometimes be difficult to establish whether an employee’s poor performance is due to inherent incapability or to lack of effort, laziness or negligence. In some cases, there may be an element of both.

Fair Dismissal

Case law has established that a dismissal for poor performance will not generally be fair unless the following key elements are present:

• A proper investigation into the problem has taken place.
• The employee has been made aware of the problem and been given an opportunity to improve within a realistic timescale.
• The employee has been provided with appropriate support and possibly training.
• The employee’s progress is reviewed during the review period.
• The employee is offered a right of appeal against the decision to dismiss.

Contact us for more information

Please contact a member of the team at Gravitate HR on 0131 225 7458 if you would like any further information.

Lone Working

Lone Working

What is Lone Working?

Lone Working occurs where an individual works in isolation from other colleagues or without close or direct supervision.
There are many different types of lone workers. Some employees will work alone on a daily basis, such as someone working in a small shop, a cleaner or a security guard. Others will spend most of their working lives with others but may find themselves working alone occasionally, such as when they work outside their normal working hours by staying on late or coming into work at the weekend.

Corporate Manslaughter Conviction

The first organisation to be found guilty of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 took place in February 2011. An employee of Cotswold Geotechnical, Alexander Wright, 27, was working alone in a 12.6ft-deep unsupported trial pit in September 2008 when it caved in at a development site in Stroud, Gloucester. Cotswold Geotechnical was fined £385,000 for gross breach of the duty of care towards Mr Wright.

Employer Responsibility

Employers are expected to carefully consider and manage any health and safety risks to individuals working alone. However, establishing a healthy and safe working environment for lone workers is not the same as it is for other employees. It is recommended that a lone worker risk assessment is carried out for each employee before they work alone.

Lone Worker Risk Assessment

The Health & Safety Executive introduced the following five-step procedure for risk assessments:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
  4. Record your findings and implement them
  5. Review your assessment and update if necessary

Contact Us

At Gravitate HR, we can carry out lone worker risk assessments or supply you with the tools you need to enable you to carry out your own risk assessments. Please contact a member of the team at Gravitate HR on 0131 225 7458 if you would like any further information.