Question – As an HR manager in a large private company, I’m trying to find out how I can manage employees’ time off for football matches during the forthcoming UEFA Euro that kicks off on 10 June. I have no doubts that this is an exciting time for fans, but I think we need to be prepared for the issues that may arise at work.
Answer – Your anxiety is quite understandable and not groundless. However, there is no reason why the matches can’t be enjoyed by everyone while also ensuring all business needs are met, writes Paula Kathrens in her article entitled Be ready for Euro 2016. Employers should start planning as early as possible in order to minimise any business disruption caused. Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has just published specific guidance on Euro 2016, which can be taken into consideration. Although the matches are not taking place during school holidays, June and July are traditionally times when staff wish to take time off work. The Euros are likely to compound this problem and businesses may not be able to accommodate every request for time off and will need to think carefully about how to manage them, especially if several employees request the same day, the article says. The 16 June is likely to be popular, for example. Employers who have already agreed to a number of holiday requests during the football tournament may want to ask all employees to submit any further requests for this period by a certain date, so they can all be reviewed at once. Organisations will need to ensure there is a fair system for granting the leave when there are too many requests for them to accommodate them all. This may be on a first come, first served basis or even drawing names out of a hat, but whatever system employers choose must be applied in a uniform and non-discriminatory fashion. If it is not possible for an employer to accommodate the volume of requests for annual leave received, the business could consider alternative flexible arrangements to allow staff to come in later or start earlier, or perhaps allow staff to swap shifts. Employers could consider making TV screens available to staff, if this is technically possible, so they can watch matches they are particularly keen to see during working hours. Employers may also wish to make clear whether employees are allowed to watch the matches on the internet. This will involve checking the existing internet policy, and considering the effect that an increase in internet usage/streaming might have on IT systems at that time. If an employer decides not to let employees watch the Euros on the internet during working hours, the company should make it clear that doing so will be treated as a disciplinary matter.
The article is published in People Management, the official publication of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD): http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2016/06/01/be-ready-for-euro-2016.aspx.  CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development with 140,000 members worldwide.

Question – I have to fire an under-performing employee, but I am still uncertain about how to tell the news. Is there any way to do so without offending her?
Answer – Yes, there is a kinder way to tell someone they’re fired, writes Elizabeth Garone in her article for BBC Capital. Firing someone is “never easy because [it] impacts individuals, families, workplaces and communities,” said Chicago-based global executive leadership coach Alicia Bassuk in an email. But she said sometimes it’s just inevitable. Before you sack someone, make sure that you have done everything possible as a manager to develop their skills, said Bassuk. And, consult human resources to ensure you’re following the right process. “If it seems like ‘they don't get it’, then they probably don’t,” she said. “Give them the benefit of the doubt that if they had that skill, they would be using it. If things still aren’t working out, then it will be clear that it is time to part ways. That way, “you can sleep well at night knowing you did the right thing.”
For a lot of managers, getting rid of an employee is very stressful and not something they are skilled at doing. But it’s important to remember that there is a difference between “what you do and how you do it,” according to Robert Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss and a Stanford University professor of management science and engineering. “It is important to help people understand why it is necessary,” he said, “that it’s justifiable, not just a crazy leader doing it.” Even if the reason for being fired relates to the employee’s behaviour, don’t use the meeting as an opportunity to blame them. “It may be tempting to do so and to say everything you always wanted to say. This can be seen as justification and you do not have to justify yourself,” said Jorg Stegemann, head of Kennedy Executive Search with offices in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Paris and Prague. By the time you get to this meeting, there should already be well-documented evidence that the person isn’t working out in the position. “If something goes wrong, always keep a written trace (record) and not just a verbal one,” said Stegemann. He recommends sending emails that clearly document the problems. “This way, the employee cannot say ‘I did not know,” said Stegemann.
You don’t want the meeting to drag on. Don’t confuse the conversation about being fired with feedback, said Bassuk. Once the decision has been made, “it is too late for feedback.” “Make it short, swift and clean,” said Stegemann. “Avoid something like, ‘You know, it hasn’t been easy for all of us...’” This is an unnecessary torture for the employee and may leave them unclear on what you are actually telling them. Stegemann instead starts with, “I am very sorry, [insert name], but I have to dismiss you today”. Then he pauses and counts to five so the employee can digest what he just told them. Then, he explains it in more detail. Stegemann said he has seen everything from tears to people yelling at him during a sacking. So, it is better not to hold a meeting like this alone. “Take another manager, preferably a human resources manager, with you in case something out of the ordinary happens,” he said. “It might become emotional and you never know how [the person] will react.”

Question It seems that one of my team members is going through a personal crisis. My initial intention was not to intervene in her personal life, but it does affect her work attitude and efficiency. What can I do in this situation?
Answer – While it’s a difficult situation indeed, an expert’s advice can help you handle it. As Chana R Schoenberger writes in the Work Ethic, a twice-monthly column on BBC Capital, what you certainly don’t want is to extend a helping hand only to find that your employee is taking your overtures as intrusive, discriminatory or otherwise objectionable. Budget some time for a one-on-one talk, suggests John Paul Rollert, an adjunct assistant professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Busines. Take your employee aside privately and say you’d like to help. Listen to anything she wants to tell you about her troubles. Then have a gentle but frank conversation about what she’s going through and its effect on the company and on your team.
You can’t force her to disclose details that she would rather not share, but you have to explain to her that her personal issues are hurting both her own work and that of the team.  She likely doesn’t realise that this is happening, or even that anyone at the office has guessed what’s going on with her - that’s common with people in traumatic situations. Use specific examples and data to illustrate how the team’s work is slipping, Rollert said, then propose solutions, concentrating on any accommodations you could make to ease the burden on your employee. Ideally you can have this conversation before things get out of hand. If your best option is offering to help your employee get medical care or check into a hospital, “that's a radical management failure,” Rollert said.  But don’t let the situation progress to that point. Start now, he advised.
Source: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20160322-when-personal-and-professional-lives-collide

Question – I’m HR manager at a national branch of a multinational company that is facing a number of operational and financial challenges. While this issue is difficult to handle per se, we have discovered that more and more qualified employees whom we would like to retain are leaving for new opportunities, maybe because they no longer feel secure at their workplace. Can we mitigate and possibly slowdown, if not revert, this process?
Answer – It looks like your company is affected by negative consequences of a trend many businesses are currently suffering from around the world. “While businesses continue to evolve themselves in order to retain key employees, the fact is that this trend of regular off-boarding is not likely to change. Businesses therefore should be prepared to deal with this paradigm shift,” writes Peter Gasca, a Startup Consultant to Entrepreneur online magazine. He suggests there are three tips for dealing with the inevitable departure of key employees, so rather than ignoring or taking offense at an employee leaving, look to make the experience positive for you and your team with these tips.
1. Plan ahead of time. First and foremost, all management teams need a plan to deal with the departure of an employee. It starts with having a thorough job description for each position in your organization. Succession planning also requires that you have an ongoing process for monitoring and replacing key employees, in the off chance they depart quickly and unexpectedly. Planning ahead of time for the inevitable challenge of a departing employee not only makes the process easier, it allows the departing employee to leave quickly without lingering among the remaining team.
2. Embrace change. Entrepreneurs need to adopt the expectation that it is not a matter of "if" but "when" a key employee will leave. Fred Wilson, a successful venture capitalist and founder of Union Square Ventures, encourages entrepreneurs to embrace change, saying, "(E)very departure is an opportunity to rethink the role and the organization. You can’t find an exact replica of the person who has left. But you can find a person who will bring different things."
3. Never burn a bridge. It is natural to feel disappointed, upset and even betrayed when an employee leaves, especially if you have put any amount of effort into training, nurturing and trusting that employee. Instead of allowing the employee to leave on a sour note, embrace his or her new opportunity and support the move. By making the already uncomfortable task of leaving easier, you create a brand ambassador for your company who can spread the gospel of your culture and ultimately attract new talent.
In the end, employees leave for any number of reasons. Whatever the reason, entrepreneurs need to understand that employee off-boarding is not only a regular part of business these days, but also that it could create positive opportunities for both you and your departing team member. And who knows, maybe after gaining valuable training, experience and life skills at another’s expense, they can return and add even more value to your organization.
Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/269795

Question – Although I have some experience in conducting job interviews, I’m still concerned whether I may be asking candidates wrong questions. Could you provide a helpful advice?
Answer – It’s true that conducting job interviews may be difficult even for professionals. Shawn Doyle, President at New Light Learning and Development Inc., has highlighted this issue in detail in his recent article published by Entrepreneur at http://www.entrepreneur.com/. “I continue to be shocked by how many leaders are bad at interviewing and, as a result, aren’t getting the best results for their organizations,” he writes. In his view, there are eight deadly sins to avoid when interviewing a job candidate. See below an extract from Doyle’s article that shall help you learn some lessons.
1. You don’t know what you’re looking for in a candidate. Before you start the interview process, it’s important to decide what qualities you are looking for in a candidate. These criteria can generally be divided into three categories: competency, culture and experience. Make sure to craft questions that will help you determine these qualities instead of open-ended questions that aren’t relevant.
2. You ask illegal questions. By law, when interviewing a candidate you cannot ask about race, creed, country of origin or religion. I often see job postings that ask at least one question prohibited by federal law.
3. You have no previous interviewing experience. Many organizations put leaders in interviewing roles, but haven’t taught them effective techniques. Interviewing is both an art and science; most people require training to be able to distinguish between excellent candidates and subpar ones with excellent interview skills.
4. You accept the first answer without digging any deeper. Many leaders will ask candidates question and accept their answers at face value.
5. You always believe a candidate’s answers. Don’t blindly accept a candidate’s answers as the truth. Instead, ask follow-up questions in an effort to determine whether they are lying. You don’t have to be accusatory – this can be done in a professional, diplomatic and friendly way.
6. You don’t require that candidates are interviewed multiple times by multiple people. The point is that if you have multiple people interview a candidate multiple times, it’s very difficult for a candidate to fool everyone. The other advantage of having multiple interview is each person will have a different experience with the candidate, and learn new things about him or her.
7. You don’t ask candidates to prove their skillsets. It is perfectly appropriate to test applicants on their listed skillsets, through role play, take-home tests or scenario-based case studies.
8. You talk too much. I’ve always believed that an interview should follow the 80/20 rule, which means the leader should talk 20 percent of the time and the candidate should talk 80 percent of the time. If the goal is to learn as much as possible about the interviewee, don’t waste time with chit chat about yourself.

Question – I often discover that when I tell my staff members one thing, the employees hear another thing and misinterpret the message I’m trying to convey. How can I improve our communications?
Answer – Indeed, employers need to think about what they’re trying to communicate and how it might sound to employees to avoid any confusion. The following examples shall help you understand statements no employee wants to hear, and what you should say instead. In the phrase “You’re doing a great job, but …” the employee only hears: “but …” It’s never a good idea to start criticism with a compliment. Instead, focus separately on what the employee does successfully and what needs extra efforts to improve to ensure that employees don’t miss out on feedback that encourages them to continue doing what they do well. When you say “I need you to be more like [someone],” the employee hears: That person "is a better employee than you." This approach can lead to increased competition and a lack of teamwork in the workplace. Instead of comparing employees, evaluate performance in comparison with the company’s mission, vision and values. You ask “How do you think you’ve been performing?” and the employee hears: “I already know how you’re performing, but want to see if you’re aware.” This question comes off as a trick question. Employees might be aware that their performance has taken a hit, but probably won’t want to point that out. Don’t ask, tell employees how they’re performing and focus on moving forward. In general, avoid saying anything that could be subject to negative interpretation by employees and opt to provide criticism in a constructive way, and offer ways to help employees improve.

Question - What is Escherichia coli (E. coli) and how it can affect me?
Answer - Escherichia coli is a anaerobic bacteria that is normal part of the intestinal flora of man and animals. It is usually used as an indicator of faecal contamination of food and water. However some strains are patogenic and produce a toxin in the intestine. This can lead to the symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhoea. You can become ill after consumption of contaminated water and /or food.

Question - What is Escherichia coli (E.coli) O157?
Answer - Some strains of E. coli are capable to produce very toxic - Vero cytotoxins which often cause serious illness, sometimes fatal, particularly in young children and the elderly. The main one associated with human disease is O157. The bacterium survives freezing and is relatively tolerant to acid conditions. It survives and multiplies in some foods at ambient temperatures

Question - What is the main symptoms of E.coli O157?
Answer - Symptoms vary from a watery diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal pain to bright red bloody diarrhoea and severe abdominal cramps. Up to 30% of patients develop haemolitic uraemic syndrome (HUS) which leads to very severe complication - acute renal failure. Fatality rates range from 1% to 5% but in some outbreaks, for example involving elderly, these may be much higher.

Question - How can I get O157 poisoning?
Answer - Infection results from eating contaminated foods, person to person spread and direct contact with animals, especially farm animals and their faeces. The main food vehicles are undercooked meat products, especially burgers and mince. The main reservoir of E.coli O157 is the stomach and intestines of casstle and, possibly, sheep. Manured vegetables and fruit crops may therefore be a source of the organism.

Question - How can I prevent myself from O157 food poisoning?
Answer - Keep high standards of personal hygiene - wash your hands regularly and properly.  Ensure that all raw meat and unwrapped cooked meat/meat products are physically separated from other ready-to-eat foods.

Question - What is HACCP?
Answer -  HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety and pharmaceutical safety that identifies physical, allergenic, chemical, and biological hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level. In this manner, HACCP is referred as the prevention of hazards rather than finished product inspection. The HACCP system can be used at all stages of a food chain, from food production and preparation processes including packaging, distribution, etc. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) say that their mandatory HACCP programs for juice and meat are an effective approach to food safety and protecting public health. Meat HACCP systems are regulated by the USDA, while seafood and juice are regulated by the FDA. The use of HACCP is currently voluntary in other food industries.